Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where'd You Go Bernadette


Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

"Misplaced genius." I really like that description about Bernadette because that's what the whole story is about. Bernadette is one of those mothers that most teenage girls would be embarrassed to claim as their own. She doesn't cook, clean, or up keep their huge house. Bee doesn't care about any the image of her mother at all... it's the rest of the word that does. Her neighbors think she's crazy and her husband thinks she's lost her mind and needs psychiatric help.

 Much of the book is written through emails and faxes from mothers of the pretentious school district Bee attends, emails to and from Bernadette's assistant Manjula, doctor's reports, and parts are narrated by Bee.  The format was different that most books I've read recently. I listened to this one on audiobook, so it took me a disk or two to really get the flow of the book. This is probably a book that it better read than listened to. Once I got into it though, I loved it. 

Parts of this book literally made me laugh out loud. The emails to and from some of the mothers were just hilarious. Other parts were heartbreaking. Bee is only 15 years old, but she has been subjected to a lot of sadness. I enjoyed how the author described what had happened to her and how she comes to terms with it all. 

Bernadette's character was my favorite. The author did a great job of developing her story and describing how she got to her breakdown. She, too, had been through a lot of sadness which ultimately made her "go crazy" as everyone was saying.  She was heartbroken over many miscarriages and also over her broken career. Her husband never really understands what she's going through; however, I believe that he is the one who truly had a midlife crisis. I found myself wanting to shake him for how he spoke to both Bee and Bernadette and for how he reacted to a lot of the things that went on in the story.

Where's You Go Bernadette was a great read. I give it 4/5 stars for plot and character development. The format is different than a lot of novels which made it fun and readable. The book made me realize how important it is to make time to do the things that make you happy in life.

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