10 May 2013
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
I read this with my Literature by Women group. A weird and crazy-snarky novel. I really liked the construction of Bernadette's life and how she feels completely out-of-place in the private school world, caught between high art principles and suburban mom-hood. Great use of the supporting "documents" and the structure of the book (also: totally a warning about using one of those "assistant" services on the web, yikes!!). Loved the section headings (Runaway Bunny!). Bee was an excellent protagonist.
But I feel that halfway through the book the author didn't quite know how to get out of her plot situation so the ending felt half-baked and a wuss-out. Some of the secondary characters felt very cliched; not sure if that's because most of the book is told from the viewpoints of Bee and Bernadette or if the author just didn't flesh them out.