One of my favorite things about summer is the good reads that come with it. Though most of us are only marginally less busy in the summer, there’s something about taking that extra hour of downtime you’d ordinarily use to watch Netflix and instead go outside, feel the sun on your skin, and settle into a new book. A few weeks ago I picked up Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? to read for a long train ride home. I read it in one sitting and while I enjoyed it and would recommend it, I’m only giving it 3 of 5 stars and here’s why…
It is 352 pages long and is currently #66 on Amazon’s Best Selling book list. The story is technically a story itself of letters and correspondence and conversations pieced together by teenager Bee, who is intelligent beyond her years and observes the craziness and chaos the “stable” adults in her life create for themselves. Her quirky mother goes missing (characteristically) amidst a lot of drama at home while Bee and her father are left with a lot of questions unanswered. The book was at times, well, all over the place but that sort of fed into the kookiness of the characters themselves so in my opinion that only added to the charm of the book. Bee’s mother is flighty, smart, witty, selfish, fun, COMPLETELY infuriating and one of those people you can tell just feels everything 100 times more than a normal person. Bee’s father is a workaholic programmer for Microsoft who has really been too absorbed in work to notice that their house is in shambles, his wife Bernadette is a bit crazier than usual, and that while Bee is only a child, she’s the only one with any real view of what’s happening. I think that some of the twists and the way they were resolved were a bit convenient and abrupt and that’s why I knocked off 2 stars. To be honest, I think the reason I like this book as much as I do is I related well with Bee and have a similar flighty female family member in my life that I feel I’m always chasing down and bringing back to reality.
I think this is a great read for girls high school aged and up. Despite the books effort to make it boy-friendly with a pretty heavy emphasis on Bee’s father’s character, I couldn’t see a male really enjoying it. Instead of enjoying the best part of this book, which is the strong feelings you as the reader develop around the characters in the novel, I strongly believe most men would find the quirks to be annoying distractions.
What do you think of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?