Where’d You Go Bernadette by By Maria Semple.
Three-hundred-and-thrity pages, Little, Brown and Company.
We meet Bernadette as the doting but eccentric mother to impressionable young Bee, a 15 year-old girl attending a tony private school in Seattle. Bernadette doesn’t get along with the other moms who she calls gnats, is a semi-recluse and the wife of a Microsoft star. She spends her days writing in a Gulfstream trailer parked outside her house while her partner climbs to greatness.
When Bernadette promises Bee a trip to Antarctica if she brings home a straight A report card, Bernadette never imagines her daughter could pull it off. She does and the quirky, unorthodox planning, which involves a virtual assistant in India, ensues. But before the epic trip to Antarctica can take place, Bernadette mysteriously disappears and we wonder if she’ll ever return.
Bee’s obsessive search for her mother takes her and her father to the end of the world and back. Much of the book rests on the mother-daughter relationship and unconditional love. You’re more than halfway through the book before you discover Bernadette’s genius and what began her toying with madness.
The droll, laugh-out-loud and at times serious story is told in emails, letters and FBI correspondence among other formats. Author Maria Semple evokes the wit and sarcasm of comedian Ellen De Generes and that’s no surprise since she’s a former writer for the TV show, Ellen, staring De Generes. Semple sends up the Subaru-driving, over-achieving, environmentally-concerned, politically correct, status conscious suburban moms of Seattle to the point of caricature.
I couldn’t put this one down folks. It’s a compulsive read.