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Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Hello readers! I’m digressing a bit from my planned summer reading list because there are so many great books being recommended to me! I’ve been on what I call a bit of a book binge lately – which is making my “to read” stack a little daunting!  Where’d You Go Bernadette was recommended to me multiple times and when I finally picked it up, I was not disappointed!

First of all, this book is HILARIOUS.  Semple’s voice as an author is so uniquely dry and engaging and relatable – I was instantly sucked in and soon after I was literally LOL-ing (people rarely actually laugh out loud when they use that acronym, you know).  It also uses a variety of narrative voices – being a combination of a traditional narrator (Bernadette’s teenage daughter) and an epistolary novel (composed of emails, notes, and articles written for, by, to, and about various characters in the novel).  This reminded me of one of my favorite books, Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot and in general, when comedy and epistolary are mixed, the result is almost always a good one for me!

What really impressed me was the author’s ability to provide a very relatable situation from characters who are exaggerations from your run-of-the-mill and in absolutely unbelievable situations.  Throughout the book, I thought, “Well, THAT would never actually happen”.  But instead of being annoyed, as if often the case with that thought, the extremity of it all made me want to keep reading – Bernadette, through Semple, was taking me on a wild ride, and by the end, I was ready for more!

The story revolves around Bernadette’s family – her daughter Bee, Microsoft genius husband, Elgie, and gigantic dog Ice Cream.  Bee has perfect grades, and as such, has requested a family trip to Antarctica.  This is a problem for Bernadette, who despite her past as a world-famous architect has become an increasingly agoraphobic private-school mom.  She is quirky and smart – which is what makes her so fun to read.  She HATES Seattle, and doesn’t take, ahem, nonsense from anyone.  As the trip to Antartica nears, Bernadette disappears… prompted by marital discord, mental distress, and some conflict with fellow private-school moms.  Oh, and the FBI is involved.  Despite everyone believing that Bernadette is gone for good, her genius daughter Bee knows her mom better than that.  And she’s determined to find her.

This book was so full of heart – I loved every minute of it.  Despite the characters being extreme, they were extremely relatable.  At the end of the day, no matter how quirky this family is, they stand by each other and love each other.  And can’t we all relate to that?  I give this book 5 stars.  Get ready to laugh! ★★★★★

– Becca

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