Book Review: "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple

Thursday, May 23, 2013

“That's right,' she told the girls. 'You are bored. And I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it's boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be.” 
I had heard that Where'd You Go, Bernadette would be quirky. I mean, whenever the New York Times calls a novel "sparkling," or "comedy heaven," you're either guaranteed a good read or a book written by a upper-middle-class white male discussing mid-life crises. Thankfully it was the former. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since Maria Semple is a former writer for Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live. Quirky comedy is clearly in her bones, and it shows.

The novel follows the Branch family - father Elgin is a Microsoft guru with a penchant for greens and biking, daughter Bee is a precocious preteen, and Bernadette...well, who knows about Bernadette. Then there's Bernadette's virtual assistant from India, Manjula, and her "gnat" of a neighbor Audrey.

An awesomely absurd plot line follows Bee's requested trip to Antarctica (of all places!), and Bernadette's spiral into seeming insanity and her subsequent disappearance. I can't explain much more without revealing details of what really is a mystery.

Semple explores disillusionment, the line between insanity and genius, and the consequences of failure, while offering wit in every sentence.

Final verdict? I highly, highly recommend. Those who read it, what did you think?