Thursday, July 31, 2014

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (audio book)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

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.

My thoughts:
I love books that use emails, postcards and other written records as part of the story.  It is like peeking into the life of someone else and seeing what they do and how they live.  How they respond to requests and messages and how they cope.  Bernadette Fox picked out a run down house that used to be a school to live in with her husband and daughter, with plans to fix it up, but that never happened.  She is uncomfortable with the amount of involvement other mother's think she should have in her daughter's private school, and she outsources all sorts of jobs to a service in India so she doesn't have to deal with things.  She is wound tightly and truly seems to hate Seattle.  But this is not who she always was, prior to moving to Seattle and giving birth to her daughter she had a different life, one that no one seems to know about and that she has pushed from her mind.

Bee is a bright student who is very close to her mother who struggles with how her mother could have left her.  They did everything together, how could she have left.  The last she saw of her, her mother was watching her accompany first graders on her flute for a performance at school, and then she was gone.  Where did she go?  Why?  As pieces of the puzzle click into place a whole new portrait of Bernadette starts to emerge, it is like she has been a butterfly for years, hiding in her cocoon and now is ready to show the world who and what she has become.  I loved watching things come together from the envelope of correspondence Bee receives and the way it revealed who it came from and what she missed.  The narration of this audio book added to the story, giving each of the characters a bit of a different lilt to their voices that added to how they came across on the page.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316204262
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 330

Meet the Author

Maria Semple
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.

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