Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Marie Semple


Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Marie Semple is a witty, humorous novel that will have you booking a flight to Seattle cruise to Antarctica (Is the Drake Passage that bad?). Bernadette is mother to Bee, a precocious teenager whose impressive academic and social standing barely hold a candle to her wit and wisdom. Bernadette hates Seattle and the people in it so much that she lives the life of a recluse, and even goes so far as to hire a virtual assistant living in India. But Manjoola isn’t who Bernadette believes her to be. And upon realizing the trouble she put herself and her family into because of her pathetic reclusiveness, she flees.

This novel of a woman’s disappearance is told from multiple perspectives – her Micrsoft-inventor-husband, FBI files, and emails to and from the many people who played a part in her escape act. I listened to this on AudioCD in my car, so it took me a moment to re-orient myself when the format went from narrative to primary source. I still recommend listening to it, though, because the reader has such a unique voice, lending so well to the uniquness of Bee, Bernadette, and the entire whirlwind of a saga they were caught up in.

This book was recently given the distinction of being named a 2013 Alex Award Winner, awarded to adult books with appeal to young adult readers. Many times as I was listening to this book I thought of the Alex Awards, so I feel validated as a Teen Services Librarian who can choose adult fiction for her demographic. I am also validated in that I choose to read really great books.

I want my best friend Dawn to read this book. I think she will “get” Bernadette. I also think hipster-haters will enjoy this, because that is all Bernadette does, really…hates on Seattle’s Queen Bee moms and rich-wannabe lifestyles. But deep down, Bernadette is sad about a life gone awry…which many of us can relate to. In fact, the author’s idea for the main character came from her own experience. Read about it on her website.

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