Semple, M. (2012). Where’d You Go, Bernadette. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN: 9780316204279
Annotation: When the truth and consequences of Bernadette’s actions, like hiring a virtual assistant in India, are made clear to her, she disappears, leaving her family in shambles. In the aftermath, her daughter Bee recreates the events leading up to her disappearance through emails, notes and personal encounters.
Reaction: I literally could. not. put this book down. Semple tells Bernadette and Bee’s story using emails, notes and Bee’s own recollections, which gives the reader insight into all the characters, often through their own words. And while this is a novel I would happily give to 13 year olds and up, there’s a lot for adult readers too. I think many adults could relate to Bernadette’s dissatisfaction with her life and her anxiety about new people/places, as well as the frustration the other adults feel about her personality quirks.
I’m actually having a difficult time classifying this book as young adult or adult fiction. Much of the plot is centered around Bernadette and her issues with life, but the primary narrator, especially in the second half of the book, is her 15 year old daughter. I really think this might be a wonderful book for parents and kids to read together and talk about, as it deals a lot with the relationships between parents and children (is this a thing real people do? because it always sounds like a great idea to me).
Semple’s characters are wonderful, and I love the way she gives us insight into each of the major players through their personal communications. Bee seems a little too perfect at the outset, all straight A student who tutors other students and plays her flute all the time and dances and everyone loves her, but by the end, the reader is reminded that she is a fifteen year old girl who wants her family back together. She deals with her mother’s disappearance the only way she knows how: by trying to find the truth (and hating her father who just doesn’t get it). Bernadette, despite her social anxiety and personality quirks that are probably hecka annoying in real life, is someone I kind of want to be friends with.
I think it’s safe to say that this is going to go on my list of Top Ten Favorites and is a book I would highly recommend to just about anyone. And you know, I spend so much time reading fantasy stuff and supernatural stuff and dystopian stuff, that sometimes it’s nice to read something that’s just about family and finding yourself.