Thursday, April 11, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Second Book Club, Book #2

This book made it into the rotation because it was on a list of "humorous" titles. I think that's a misnomer. It's not a funny book. You don't laugh. It's over-the-top, absurd, and silly enough to make you wonder what's going to happen next. It is not, however, what I'd call humorous.

Eventually, Bernadette, acclaimed architect/artist, denying her creative talent while Seattle suburbia seems to be swallowing her whole, disappears. Before that though, we meet a complicated woman, wife, and mom. Her husband is something of a tech genius. Her daughter is a well-adjusted teenager with a heart condition. They also have a dog, and a house that's literally returning to the earth with every invading raindrop and blueberry bramble. This is ironic, since Bernadette is well-known for an amazing home she once created that only used materials within a twenty-mile radius of the construction site. However, she's left that all behind to posture as a bit of a crazy lady.

Of course, she would look crazy compared to the parents of the private school her daughter, Bee, attends. They exemplify the stereotypical, social-climbing, gossip-hounds who must give off the impression of perfection to a point that's painful to me. At one point, Bee slaps one of them, and I cheered!

Now, I've only just set the scene, but craziness ensues with an improbability factor bouncing off the charts. This tiny bit of Seattle goes a little off the deep end and Bernadette runs out on what is supposed to be an intervention for her mental health. With a level of determination only a child can have, and plenty of resources, Bee plots the trip she just knows will lead her back to her mother, her best friend. Will it work? How much absurdity will have to take place first? That's what makes this book a fun read.

Maybe you laugh after you read it...because of how outrageous it all is...