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{September 23, 2019}   {Review} Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

From Goodreads: 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.

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I really wanted to love this novel; I was hooked almost immediately upon beginning, and for roughly half of it, I was 100% on board loving everything about it! An epistolary novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told completely through letters: emails and faxes being the main mode for this story. And yet, we learn so much about Bernadette; she’s a funny, whimsical character that had me in stitches as I read. Her nutty neighbors and the gnats (busybody school moms), as Bernadette refers to them, were so much fun to read about, and I felt like this story was just so perfect. It was witty, funny, and had enough elements in it that made me say, “this could really happen–I’ve seen crazier in real life!” I felt like I had a connection with the characters, and all was well. And then, Bernadette disappeared. Initially I was intrigued, but it soon became too fantastical, too unbelievable, and the novel seemed to speed up to the point that I just lost interest — whole months were being skipped. Suddenly, the main fun character was gone, and we’re left with a moody daughter, a cheating husband, an annoying gnat, and a quick resolution explaining how and why everything works out in the end, except that it doesn’t, and it’s outside the realm of belief for me. When I finally got to the end, I said aloud, “that’s it?” There’s no resolution, and I walked away from this one disappointed. It’s actually a novel where I feel like the movie is going to be better than the book, just because the trailer I saw already had changed some key points that I’d taken issue with in the novel, so… even though the novel was a bit of a let down in the last half, I still have hopes for the movie. Overall, I give this book three stars.

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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