Monday, August 21, 2017

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Title: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 330
Genre: Fiction
How I Found It: A friend loaned it to me
Date Completed: 7/12/17

Summary: A quirky Seattle mother struggles with social interactions. When her daughter requests a trip to Antartica, things start falling apart.

What I Thought: Before we went to Michigan for my father-in-law's surgery, a friend gave me a few books she thought I might enjoy. This was one of them. I picked it up about a week into our trip and burned through it in a day. It had me laughing and thinking about personality and social interactions. 

After reading the book and looking it up on Goodreads for this post, I realized that Semple also for Arrested Development. This makes total sense to me. 

There is depth here, but a lot of humor as well. If I tried to describe the book to you based purely on plot points (potential mental illness, a family living in a rundown home, a mudslide into a kindergarten performance, etc.), you would not expect the light-hearted humor to be so pervasive. Yet, if you are a fan of Arrested Development, you know how well the silly can coexist with the more serious. This book fills that demand. 

It's set up in a unique way, too. Most of the story is delivered through emails, letters, official documents, etc. There are interjections of more traditional narration, mostly toward the end. I loved this nontraditional approach. I've always enjoyed stories told through letters and documents. I love the Dear America books as a kid and there was some book about kids going to camp that was all told in letters, pictures, and documents, but I can't remember for the life of me what it was. Anyway, this feels like the grown-up version of that. It's fun and different and Semple keeps it fluid enough to not be annoying.

For all the frivolity, the book does deal with some big issues. The uniqueness of some of the characters really got me thinking about personality types and how we coexist with one another. Semple does a lovely job of showing how miscommunication and misunderstanding of others' personalities and needs can create chaos. As someone who has become increasingly aware of my own personality driven needs and desire in my adult years, I really appreciated that aspect of the book. 

I liked this one. It worked really well for me a quick, easy summer read. If you're heading to the beach or pool....or a week in someone's hospital room like me, this is a great pick.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Probably not, but I'd like to find more of Semple's work.
If You Liked This, Try: Snobs / Crazy Rich Asians / The Royal We 

A Reduced Review: A wonderful summer read with enough thoughtful content to keep you engaged and enough humor to keep you smiling. 

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