Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 16: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

faintingviolet’s #CBR5 review #7: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleSo many other Cannonballers have read this one, there isn’t much left for me to say. So I’ll keep it brief.

Bee’s mom, Bernadette, disappears under mysterious circumstances. She’s suffered for years in a city that she doesn’t love, surrounded by people that she thought she hated. She left a failed career behind her in Los Angeles and now lets her husband — a big player at Microsoft — be the star of the family.

The story is told through letters, emails, transcribed TED talks, magazine articles, interviews, and other correspondence — some directly from Bernadette, and some just about her. And young genius Bee uses this paper trail to try and find out what happened to her mother and where she could be now.

While I didn’t love the ending (really, the whole Antarctica storyline was a bit much for me), I did love pretty much every other thing about this book. I loved the hilariously nasty emails that went back and forth between the other moms at Bee’s school (this is why I don’t get too involved with the PTA at our local elementary school!), and also enjoyed the increasingly crazed emails sent from Bernadette to her “virtual assistant” in India.

Completely original and entertaining. Glad I finally got around to it. Thanks Cannonball friends!!

You can read more of my review on my blog.

HelloKatieO’s #CBR5 Review #15: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book has been reviewed no less than five times already on Cannonball Read V thus far. I kept seeing reviews, most of them were raves, some were neutral, so I figured I’d take a look. Semple was a producer on Arrested DevelopmentMad About You and Suddenly Susan, all shows I loved in my youth, or love now, or both. You can feel some of those sensibilities in the book, and you can really feel how she traditionally writes for the screen.

This is a family drama, at heart. It’s about Bernadette, the reclusive mom who is fiercely protective of her daughter but also fiercely paranoid and losing it a bit. It’s about her husband Elgin, a high level Microsoft executive work-a-holic who realizes too late his family is falling to pieces. And it’s about the mature beyond her years Bee, their daughter, who ends up driving the story, suffering hurt but moving past it with the incredibly resiliency of a teenager and forcing her parents to face their problems.

It’s no surprise that the movie rights have been acquired. Nor is it a surprise that the 500 Days of Summer writers are scripting it, because it’s full of that same type of whimsical quirkiness.Antarctica, eccentric architecture, mud slides (the natural disaster, not the drink), odd homes, prescription drugs, outsourcing your life to India, recluses, etc. If you’re not into that, I’d recommend staying away. But if you can look past the oddball details, there’s a compelling story here. It keeps your attention, it’s funny, and really it makes you think about how people handle themselves when tragedy strikes, or life deals them a hard blow.

More reviews over at my blog!

faintingviolet’s #CBR5 review #7: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This one has been reviewed for CBR5 a few times already, so let’s just skip to the meat of the issue:

“The story is summarized as being Bee’s search for her mom, but it’s not. It’s the documenting of a life out of control and the magical realism way in which that life is brought back under control.  And I say this while falling a little in love with the book as it is.”

Read more here.

Baxlala’s #CBR5 Review #6: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

where'd you goI read Where’d You Go, Bernadette because Ashley told me to. So many of my reviews seem to start this way. But it’s true, I wouldn’t have known about this book if Ashley hadn’t talked and talked and talked (I LOVE YOU, ASHLEY) about it so much.

I’m not sure that I loved it as much as Ashley did, but I sure did enjoy it. I devoured it, really, not wanting to put it down until I’d finished it and, honestly, I would have read another ten volumes had they existed, as long as they were about the same family and written in the same style.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is about a family of three (four, counting Ice Cream, their dog): Elgin, the work-a-holic husband and father, Bernadette, the reclusive and socially anxious wife and mother, and Bea, their precocious daughter. Bernadette is an enigma to her husband, who works for Microsoft and mostly ignores Bernadette’s rants and rampages. Bernadette spends most of her time avoiding the mothers (aka “gnats”) of the other children at Bea’s school, especially her neighbor, Audrey. Which you will understand as soon as you “meet” Audrey.

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that Bernadette goes missing at one point. I mean. It’s all in the title, really. Bea is determined to find her and drags her unknowing father along for the ride. IT IS DELIGHTFUL. And not only is it delightful, but it will make your heart hurt in very specific ways, which is always nice because how else would you know you have feelings?


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Oh, hey, so I started this review a million years ago and, not only did I think I’d finished it already, but I thought I posted it, too. It turns out that NO I did not post it because here I am, just posting it now. It’s been about a month or so since I finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette, so some of the novelty has worn off, but I will say that I still remember it vividly, which is more than I can say about most books a month after I’ve read them.

So, yeah. Just read it. It doesn’t take long and ALSO Ashley recommended it. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED? A picture of a baby penguin? OK FINE:


Even Stevens’s #CBR5 Review #2: Where’d You Go, Bernadette


I’ve been having a hard time sitting down to write this review because I’m not quite sure what to say. I picked this one up after hearing rave reviews from several fellow Cannonballers. Admittedly, this may have unrealistically raised my expectations about the book (a habit you would think I would have broken by now, but nope).   While it was a good book, it didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette focuses on a family of three living in Seattle: Elgin, a Microsoft mogul, his wife Bernadette, a quirky and brilliant (but retired) architect and their daughter, Bee. Bernadette hates the local school moms (always referring to them as”gnats”) and they return the disdain.  This rivalry of sorts is what drives much of the book, as well as Bernadette’s offbeat personality and the situations she gets herself into.  Several events culminate into the titular event, Bernadette disappears shortly before Christmas. This novel is told mostly in epistolary form (which I normally am not a huge fan of, but it works well here) by Bee, who has compiled any and all correspondence relating to her mother and what led to her disappearance.

I did enjoy this book, Semple is a great writer and there were some truly funny and clever things going on. I think that’s my problem  – I can appreciate the content and the writing, but at the end of the day it’s a book I just liked, not loved or hated, and I think those can be the hardest to write about.   Bee is absolutely the best part of this novel; she’s smart and sweet and clever and any parts involving her were a joy to read. I had some issues with other plotlines in the novel, some are just downright outrageous (which I think is the intention), and others are more mundane but just as unbelievable.

I wish I had loved this book, but for me it’s going down in the “like” category. If we could give half stars, this one would be a 3.5.