Where’d you go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

whered-you-go-bernadette1The question of who we actually are is at the heart of “Where’d you go, Bernadette?” Most people have multiple personalities, so who we are to our parents, siblings, friends,family, spouses , work acquaintances, or to strangers may seem very different.  Bernadette Fox is a revolutionary architect, a passionate wife to her computer genius husband, best friend and mother to her daughter, Bee and helplessly agoraphobic.

Bernadette, herself is an usual character, she hates pretty well everything, including her home in Seattle, and has a hatred for and fear of Canadians (of all things). In order to cope with daily life, Bernadette has resorted to hiring a virtual assistant in India to manage her daily errands.  Surprisingly, all is well until Bee aces her report card and claims the family promise of a trip to Antarctica, forcing Bernadette into drastic action. Unable to cope, Bernadette simply disappears, so to find her mother, Bee turns detective using email messages, forms and secret letters.  The story is both touching and absurd with it emphasis on the love between a parent and child and demonstrates how the flotsam of our lives can illustrate who we are.

Semple who has been a script writer for a number of hit television series, lives in Seattle, so most of her jibs seem on the mark and the feeling of the novel seems up to date with the most ridiculous aspects of modern culture. This is great, light read.

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