Reading...Where'd You Go Bernadette
|Amanda Waters||Apr 17, 2014|
For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. As the book opens, we discover that Bernadette disappeared. Through emails, notes, and letters -- with a little clarifying narration dropped in from time to time by Bernadette's 8th grade daughter -- we read Bernadette's story. What happened that made Bernadette disappear? How did she get to that point? And where did she go? Readers are given various facts, and left to read between the lines. I think the format really worked for the story, because it leaves so much interpretation up to the reader. Because each piece of the story is written from the single, unique perspective of one of the characters, we often think we know something, but then realize maybe we don't know as much as we think we do. It's a great way to illustrate that one person's perspective doesn't necessarily tell the whole truth of a situation. The book manages to be satirical and snarky and sarcastic, but sympathetic at the same time. I've read reviews from readers who thought that the book trivializes mental illness, and while I do think the edge of the humor walks a fine line, the story taken as a whole actually points out the importance of acknowledging and confronting mental illness, and the damage it can do to the families and friends. I think this book also does a good job in bringing out the humanity in each of the characters. Everyone kind of starts out crazy -- but over the course of the book, everyone grows a little, and starts looking around them instead of being wrapped up in their own drama.
My only complaint with the book is the ending. To me, the ending felt rushed and even a little abrupt. I would have liked another chapter or two to flesh it out. But overall, a book I enjoyed. It would make a great book club pick.