Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 12/2/19-12/4/19

How I Found It: Goodreads

Let me mention, I am writing this review before seeing the movie (although if you scroll down, you can see my opinions on the movie, too), so this section of the review is only about the book. This book reminded me a lot of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in that it is written through a series of letters and the humor behind the stories are similar.

Bernadette Fox was an incredible architect who found ways of incorporating uncommon objects in her projects. When her final project gets bulldozes, Bernadette has to face the grief that comes from that loss. Many years later, Bernadette lives in Seattle with her husband, Elgin, who is a Microsoft leader in robotics, and their 15-year-old daughter, Bee.

Bee decided that she wanted her graduation gift to be a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette, who has become a bit of a recluse, started to freak out over the trip, which exacerbated issues within the family.

Many of the mom’s at Bee’s public school are what Bernadette calls “gnats”. Specifically, Audrey Griffin is the worst gnat of all. Soon, their feud builds to a breaking point, including a mudslide. This behavior begins to worry Elgin, and he decides to hold an intervention to get Bernadette help.

So that’s when things get weird. Elgin began looking for comfort from his admin, Soo-Lin, who is best friends with Audrey, as they prepare for his TED talk and impending trip to Antarctica. When Audrey gets copies of Soo-Lin’s and Elgin’s emails, she warns Bernadette of the intervention. Bernadette ends up sneaking away and eventually was found in Antarctica only to sneak away again. Told from the story of Bee, it shows the love between a mother and daughter and how that connection can’t be topped.

My biggest issue with this book is Bee. The entire time I listened to the story, I assumed Bee had to be younger than she actually is. It threw me off the entire story and constantly bugged me. Also, what 15-year-old is in 8th grade?

I was super drawn into this book, even taking time when I was home from work to listen to the novel. There is a certain humor (similar to Fredrik Backman) that is both cynical and hilarious. My biggest complaint with this book, sans the whole Bee situation, is that it just wasn’t overly memorable. There are books that I will remember forever and there are books that I read just for the sake of saying I read them, and this one will fall in the latter, which is really disappointing, because by all accounts, it should have been niche for me. I am going to have to rank this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, with a “maybe I will come back to it one day”.

After watching the movie, I am impressed by just how close it follows the book. Obviously, time-wise, certain sections of the book were cut out, but more or less the rest of the movie does a really good job. Also, the credit scene of her architecture project is incredible and so satisfying!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

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