Author: Maria Semple
Narrated by: Kathleen Wilhoite
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Listening copy via public library
Where'd You Go, Bernadette was a 2013 Alex Award winner, which means that it's an adult book with teen appeal. Which means it's a book that it is little edgy, a little twisty, a book that you can read for fun without having to write a paper about it. But that doesn't mean that it won't get you thinking.
Maria Semple has written a satire about tech culture, helicopter parenting, and Seattle. It's also a commentary about the nature of art, the loneliness of genius, and the bonds of family.
The story is told through a series of email correspondence, magazine articles, doctor's reports, and the narration of Bernadette's teenage daughter, Bee, who is trying to piece together the puzzle of her mother's sudden disappearance. There isn't much of an actual mystery, but rather misunderstandings both comic and tragic. But mostly comic.
It starts when Bee gets straight A's and calls in her parents' promise for a special present. Bee wants to go to Antarctica. This puts Bernadette into a panic because she's become something of a hermit, but she agrees to go. And cue series of mishaps.
Bernadette comes off as unlikeable, petty, agoraphobic, brilliant, funny, lonely, and completely devoted to her daughter. Yay! A fully dimensional female character who isn't always nice! You're not supposed to like her all the time. But the point of the novel is that by the end, you understand her.
Kathleen Wilhoite is absolutely amazing in her narration. She handles the different types of correspondence and their many characters with aplomb, giving voice to the humor without losing the pathos.
Book Trailer for Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: