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


“’That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.’”

I don’t think I would have picked this one up on my own. But, my best friend was reading it and loving it, and I wanted to read it with her. And I’m really glad I did! Granted, I did listen to the audiobook since the wait for the physical book was heckin’ long at the library. And I enjoyed it! I’m so glad I gave this book a chance. 3.5 stars.

I am still getting used to the whole audiobook experience, and they are for sure not my go-to, but I must say this one was pretty great. Is it bad that I knew immediately that the narrator was Jess’ mom/Luke’s crazy sister from Gilmore Girls?? She has a distinct voice okay?! And honestly, she was so fitting to voice Bernadette (and everyone else). She did a really great job with all of the voices and the personalities. I really enjoyed it.

Funnily enough, this book had some strong Gilmore Girls vibes anyway. Which of course I loved. It is narrated by Bee, Bernadette’s daughter, and the two of them have a relationship that could resemble that of Lorelei and Rory Gilmore. Not to mention the writing is fast-paced, quick-witted, chock full of pop culture references, and satirical to boot a la Gilmore Girls. No wonder I liked it!

I really appreciated the sarcasm and the satire throughout the book. It had a very tongue in cheek tone and poked fun at society at large, specifically technology, tech companies, Seattle, private school culture, and artsy people, for some. It was definitely a self aware book and the author clearly knew how to capture her social commentaries with satirical charm. It was very funny and telling at the same time. There was a certain amount of whimsy and quirkiness to the novel, and characters, that made the reader have to suspend their disbelief in order to fully enjoy the story. It almost read like a fable, where we know we are going to learn some lesson along the way, but first we have to journey amongst a bunch of wacky people and situations. It was all very wholesome and silly, but then under that level of ridiculousness, there was a more serious and sometimes heavy tone. Everything was stated simply and clearly, authentically, and so matter of fact, all with a dash of quirky charm, that it was easy to overlook the deep topics being discussed at the same time. I liked the duality and the juxtaposition of it.

The structure of the story itself was not my favorite. I do not generally like letters and emails and whatnot being the source of the narrative. Especially from some really unlikable characters. Everyone kind of sucked in this book. They were all shallow and pretentious and narcissistic. And I know you are supposed to think this about them, it’s part of the satire, but dang they were annoying a lot of the time! I also wasn’t a huge fan of how the story didn’t really pick up until 3/4 of the way into it. The main Thing that was supposed to happen in the book didn’t happen until almost the end. That was pretty frustrating, since the beginning felt kind of dragged out and I was starting to lose interest. I didn’t really care about the lives and the Desperate Housewives drama of everyone in town. I get that it was setup for everything, but it could have been pared down a tad I think.

Overall, I thought this story was super quaint and funny, while still managing to tackle some pretty deep topics. Bernadette was a character that you couldn’t help but like, even when she was being rude, oblivious, blunt, or acting very privileged (which was kind of the point). She was so resilient and fiercely independent. She never let things really get to her (or would bounce back/plow ahead after a mental breakdown or two) and laid everything out on the table. She never hid who she was and learned to channel her quirky, restless spirit into something productive. I ended up really liking her and Bee. The other characters, while often amusing, I never much cared for.

Ultimately, I am so glad I gave this book a shot! It was so endearing. Now, I’m all set for a BFF movie and wine night with the film, too!

Let me know your thoughts below!

Despite him being a dog, I think I have a certain kinship with Ice Cream.

Happy reading!

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Fiction| Humor | Adult | Satire | Contemporary | Chick Lit
Publication Date: August 14th, 2012
Page Count: 330 pages
Buy It: Wordery Book Depository

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