A Book With Someone's Name in the Title
I actually had a hard time narrowing down which one to share for Collaboreads (my options included Emma, Sarah's Key, Lizzy & Jane) but after starting Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple I was sold!
Seattle, suspense, and sarcasm galore? Done deal!
and it had so many holds on it at the library that I highly doubted it would come my way. Then, voila! I got the notification and scurried down the street to pick it up. Now for the review.
In summary, Bernadette Fox is an unusual gal doing her best to manage her life in less-than-sunny Seattle after an unnamed disaster sent her family running off from California to the Pacific Northwest. She is not exactly a fan of people, and she has gone so far as to hire a virtual assistant in India to take care of the most basic every-day tasks (like dinner reservations and ordering take-out). When a run-in (or run-over) in the parking lot of her daughter's prep school triggers a mudslide of unfortunate events, Bernadette takes off and hilarity, tragedy, and chaos ensue.
- Can my answer be THE ENTIRE THING?! I tore through it in two or three days, devouring it with gusto. The style, the sass, the story, it kept me hanging on from page 1!
- To be honest, my favorite part was probably reading it while in Seattle. I recognized so many of the places, struggles, and stereotypes (which are spot on, by the way) and cracked up each time! Seattle will forever hold a piece of my heart, and I get the feeling this book will, too.
ELEMENTS. How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?
- Oh, Bernadette. As much as she cracked me up and confused me, I totally related. I could NOT have predicted how the story would go, and I'm usually pretty good about guessing ahead of time --the number of Harry Potter predictions I got right would surprise you ;)
- Another fun fact is the structure of the book. Any narration is given by her daughter, Bee, and the rest is a timeline in the form of e-mail exchanges from a wide assortment of characters and newspaper articles (plus a few other things that tickled my fancy, but I won't give those away!). Bee is charming and heartwarming, a sharp-as-a-tack middle schooler you root for from the beginning. I loved getting to know her along with Bernadette and the rest of the motley crew.
- My recommendation for reading: enjoy the surprises! And while you might judge a book by it's cover (because lets face it, I totally do) keep your mind open for unexpected possibilities!
ASSOCIATE. What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now?
- I can't say that I've read many books like this one. I recently read Lunch in Paris which is just as easily readable and unique in its structure, including recipes from the scenes author Elizabeth Bard describes.
- With as many books as I have read, especially in the last year, you'd think I'd have more on my list of similar recommendations, but I'm coming up blank! I do belie it's quite unlike anything I've picked up before.
- It does serendipitously line up with being in Seattle for the summer, so that's fun. And the next book I picked up, one of the Collaboreads contenders Lizzy & Jane, is ALSO set in the Emerald City. How odd right?
DESIGN. You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?
- How could Where'd You Go, Bernadette NOT catch my eye?! This pop of teal always stood out, and I have to say I've been on the hunt for a pair of similar sunglasses since first spotting the book. Not sure I could pull them off, but I'd certainly try them on ;) I love the design/aesthetic, and it suits the book quite well in my opinion!
- The font was readable, nothing out of the ordinary, and the only formatting that requires an extra look is when it transitions from Bee's first person narrative to the e-mails, articles, and so on. Everything is labeled clearly, and you're able to quickly pick up on the point of view no matter how often or quickly it changes.
STARS. How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?
- 5/5 stars, hands down! If I could buy this book for all of you, I would! It's a fun summer read, perfect for a long flight, road trip, or a day at the beach. But I warn you, reading before-bed might mean an all-nighter to find out just where on earth DID Bernadette go! ;)