Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Discovering Bernadette

Today I wanted to give you a recap/review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I know that this book has appeared on a number of blogs (probably in part because of its whimsical, colorful cover), but I first spotted it in the alumni magazine from Choate, my alma mater. Semple is a Choate graduate amongst other things (like being a writer for Arrested Development).

When I read the first page, I was all in. I read the 330 page book in three sittings. Janet Maslin, of the New York Times, writes, "Where’d You Go, Bernadette leaves convention behind. Instead, it plays to Ms. Semple’s strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy." (Okay, does bloggy mean bad in this sentence? I think so. Luckily, spell-check does not even recognize "bloggy" as a word. Take that, Janet.) "Mixed-media" is an apt way to describe the novel as it is comprised of letters, emails, report cards, narration, and FBI documents. It is the witty, hilarious, and, at times, poignant story of a young girl trying to locate her eccentric and wildly funny mother, Bernadette, who has disappeared before the family's long awaited trip to Antarctica. Semple satirizes life in Seattle and spares no one with her social criticism, which I, personally, love. I also loved all the ridiculous references to Choate. Made me wonder what Semple's time there was like! (Perhaps she and I should compare notes on that...)

This is a terrific summer read, and I highly recommend it. Check it out and tell me what you think. Next on my reading list is Nell Freudenberger's The Newlyweds. I am finally getting to it!

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