Where'd You Go, Bernadette

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Fifteen-year-old Bee wants nothing more than to visit Antarctica with her parents, and she’s thrilled when they agree to go as a reward for her perfect report card. As her father continues to work long hours on a mysterious Microsoft project, Bee’s mother Bernadette dives headlong into preparations for the trip, ordering box after box of gear through her digital assistant in India. But as the departure date grows closer, Bernadette’s behavior becomes strange — or, rather, even stranger than normal.

After multiple confrontations with a nosy neighbor and a shockingly disastrous school fundraiser, Bernadette disappears, leaving Bee to patch together the story of her mother’s downward spiral. Told through alternating mediums including first-person narration, emails, written notes, and news articles, Where’d You Go Bernadette is a shockingly funny novel about a family in crisis.

"I saw hundreds of them, cathedrals of ice, rubbed like salt licks; shipwrecks, polished from wear like marble steps at the Vatican; Lincoln Centers capsized and pockmarked; airplane hangars carved by Louise Nevelson; thirty-story buildings, impossibly arched like out of a world’s fair; white, yes, but blue, too, every blue on the color wheel, deep like a navy blazer, incandescent like a neon sign, royal like a Frenchman’s shirt, powder like Peter Rabbit’s cloth coat, these icy monsters roaming the forbidden black. There was something unspeakably noble about their age, their scale, their lack of consciousness, their right to exist. Every single iceberg filled me with feelings of sadness and wonder. Not thoughts of sadness and wonder, mind you, because thoughts require a thinker, and my head was a balloon, incapable of thoughts.”

Maria Semple is an American screenwriter and novelist. Her books include Today Will Be Different, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and This One is Mine. She lives in Seattle.

Published: 2012
Length: 326 pages
Set in: Seattle, Washington, U.S.; Antarctica