This book was a very quick read, especially compared to the Kingsolver novel I picked up two weeks ago and am still slogging through. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I picked up a copy at a garage sale for $1 and I’d heard some good buzz about it, so I went in without even reading the description on the back.
I could not put this book down. Seriously, I started reading it one night when I was having trouble falling asleep, and I read several hours into the night until I inevitably had to get some sleep for the coming day. I finished it the next day.
The novel is formatted as a sort of collection of notes about Bernadette and her friends, interspersed with narrative from her daughter’s point of view. As I was reading, a recurring thought was, Damn, Bernadette can write! She’s got admirable skill.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is about Bernadette Fox, who ran away from her career and wound up in Seattle, and the Fox family as they plan a trip to Antarctica. (Penguins!) It’s hilarious in some parts, in a cheek-biting kind of way where Semple describes the “gnats,” rich moms of the area, and their crazy antics. The way Bernadette responds to them is tickling, but let’s just say I was glad to be experiencing it from a distance. Definitely did not have me rushing off to become a mom any time soon, and I think that was kind of the point.
Although halfway through it I was worried that the plot was going to fall short, it built up perfectly and crescendoed to the end. I loved, loved, loved the ending and Semple’s description of Antarctica through Bee’s eyes. The best writing of the book is definitely in the second half, so you have time to prepare yourself. Honestly, this book surprised me. Just as I thought I would lose interest, Semple weaved something else in to add a different dynamic entirely. About a hundred pages in I was enjoying the book, but thinking, So… How long are we gonna talk about snotty rich Seattle? As I let things unfold, the book gained momentum and I sped through the last 100 pages as quickly as I could. I was so into it.
Definitely worth a read.
Rating: 4/5 Stars