Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

The style of this book was a little different, but once I got started I couldn't put it down.  Bernadette is a former architect from LA who is now a wife and mother living in Seattle.  She hates Seattle and its natives so much that she has become virtually housebound - hiring a virtual assistant in India to carry out the most mundane tasks.  She becomes overwhelmed when she agrees to take a trip to Antarctica with her family to celebrate her daughter's perfect grades.  Planning the trip through her virtual assistant, as well as a dispute with a neighbour over her decrepit house's impact on the adjoining property, causes her to flee, leaving her 14 year old daughter to piece together where she's gone.  She does this based on an envelope, sent to her anonymously, containing e-mails and other correspondence between her parents, the virtual assistant, the neighbour and others.  Through these materials she also learns pieces of her mother's history that had not previously been shared with her - such as why the family left LA.  Much of the book consists of this correspondence - together with Bee's (the daughter) commentary on them and events surrounding them.  I was sucked in quickly and as anxious as Bee to figure it all out.  An easy and engaging read.

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