I’m not generally one for peer pressure, but the sheer number of reviews and effusive praise for Where’d You Go, Bernadette convinced me that I had to read this book. I did and, as I usually am with books as acclaimed as this, was let down considerably.
Had the story ended with Bernadette’s (initial) disappearance, it would’ve moved at least one notch up to a 3 instead of a 2. But it doesn’t, and Semple’s story starts to unravel. Short of spoiling the ending, I’ll say this: from her disappearance onward, I could suspend my disbelief no longer.
My problems with Where’d You Go, Bernadette, however, started much earlier. Refreshing though it was, the format of the book itself didn’t quite work for me. At times, I bought it completely, whereas in other cases I found reason to question it. In other words, not every snippet of correspondence is created equal.
Some I felt the story could’ve done without. Others weren’t as well-written as the rest. And, in general, it all felt pretty samey. No matter who as talking, and no matter the form his or her correspondence took, the differences were negligible.
Yet, that being said, I also feel almost as if the book could’ve been improved by cutting out Bee’s input. Few will even go so far as to entertain that thought, saying it was essential to the plot, but I never connected to, or particularly liked, Bee.
Plus, a story told entirely through correspondence is much more ambitious and, thus, appeals to me more than the book as is. There would be a far greater chance for failure, but I would’ve been interested to see Semple at least try.
In short, it was a very hot-and-cold book (pun intended) for me. Disappointing, but with enough promise for me to consider giving Semple another shot.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.