THE LATEST

The Book Nook: October 11, 2016

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Author: Maria Semple

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Taylor Brethauer/The Quadrangle

Genre: Fiction

A funny adventure from start to finish, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” should be your next read. Told through letters, emails, diary entries and more, the book is the perfect combination of all formats. Author Maria Semple, who has written for shows like “Arrested Development” and “Ellen,” introduces us to the Fox Family, one we will never forget.

Bernadette Fox is a mother, albeit a sheltered and introverted one. Her daughter Bee thinks she knows all about her, but that is not the case. Her husband, Elgie, works for Microsoft in the rainy city of Seattle, much to Bernadette’s unhappiness. To the mothers at Bee’s private school, she’s a total joke. It isn’t a surprise that Bernadette disappears during the climax of the book.

Many events occur before Bernadette’s mysterious departure. Bee requests a cruise to Antarctica, Elgie gains a new assistant who happens to be a mom at the private school and their dreadful neighbor wages an all-out war on Bernadette’s “differences.” Once the FBI gets involved and the stress for the Antarctica voyage gets too much is when Bee comes home to a missing mother.

Although it seems like a dramatic novel, it is actually quite the opposite. Semple has written for many comedy shows, so this novel has a satirical tone to it. Fights between the private school moms and Bernadette play out like “Real Housewives” battles. Bernadette speaks her mind in the most hilarious way, against Elgie’s assistant who seems to become more than just that.

Then there is Bee, who thinks the world of her mother, but is also focusing on having to move across country to a brand new boarding school. Except that proves easier said than done as she is soon forced to move back home. The worry of her mother being missing and Elgie not doing more to bring her home makes her become distant and drop out of the school. Only, as she’s at this faraway school, she receives a package in the mail of every correspondence her mother had been having with anyone within the past few months plus images into a past she left behind in San Francisco. As she pieces the information together, she also demands Elgie still takes her on the cruise to Antarctica.

Antarctica, a reoccurring mention throughout the novel, is the perfect setting for the resolution of our story. It is elusive and odd, much like Bernadette. Bee, depressed and moody by her recent life events, tries to imagine her mother in the obscure continent. In order to not give anything away, Bee finds Bernadette in the best Bernadette fashion. It’s a heartwarming reunion between mother and daughter that’ll make you want to call up your mom and tell her you love her.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I am considering rereading it. Semple does a fantastic job creating a somewhat broken family that is realistic yet funny. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a charming book that is enjoyable to read. It was a great read during the summer and with the way the weather has been lately, it’s the perfect book to read while relaxing on the Quad.

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