Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

PopSugar recently posted a slideshow list of 50 Books Being Adapted into Movies. Out of all the books-to-movies I am excited about, Where’d You Go Bernadette is no. 1 on my list. I’m not sure who my picks for casting would be, just so long as the movie is decent. I know books-to-movies are not always the best executed, but Where’d You Go Bernadette is one I think would hold up well retold in cinematic form. But let me tell you more about the book so you can get excited with me too!

It is a fantastic, hilarious book about a family in Seattle told through documents, letters, and interludes with Bee, the 12-year-old daughter of Bernadette, a reclusive ex-architect, and Elgin, a Microsoft employee. The letter-style that the novel is written in is interesting and works mostly well in developing the characters (despite some constraints, as Semple writes in an interview). If there’s anything that is most evident, Bee adores her mother, even though she doesn’t understand her disappearance–hence the novel’s structure of being told through documents and letters. Bee is the one reading these documents trying to figure out where her mother could’ve gone. How Bernadette is found ends up being a little anti-climatic, believe it or not once you read the book, but it did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Maria Semple

If you like a good read about offbeat family dynamics, Where’d You Go Bernadette is the book for you. Maria Semple is no stranger to offbeat family dynamics, as she wrote for the reigning offbeat fictional family, the Bluths. Semple was a writer and producer for season 3 of Arrested Development, which is no surprise given how well she writes dialogue. Bernadette is no Lucille Bluth, thank goodness, but she definitely has a perhaps rightfully vicious streak towards the other mothers at the prep school Bee attends.

This book was a quick read in that I could not put it down after starting. After all, this novel involves a dog named Ice Cream, Abbey Road, assistants ga-ga over their boss, a teenage girl’s obsession with Antarctica, crazy prep school moms, the drizzly city of Seattle, hijinks at Microsoft, Ted talks. And these were all on top of the crux of the story: a daughter and mother who love each other.

Purchase Where’d You Go Bernadette on Amazon


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