Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

A few years ago, you couldn’t go to a bookstore, walk past a Hudson’s News in the airport, or go to a book club without hearing about Where’d You Go Bernadette. It was a runaway hit 2012 – library hold lists were miles long and I just wasn’t interested enough to wait six months to read it. Now, in 2019, its popularity is growing again with a movie scheduled for release later this year. It was after watching the trailer that I remembered this book existed and decided to pick up a copy to see what all the hype was about. After reading it – I kinda get the hype: it’s a good book, but it does fail to really deliver in the end on all of its build up.

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

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