Where’d You Go Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book was recommended to me by a coworker, and it was described as a “vacation read,” but after spending the past few months reading dense writing by male authors, I was ready to read something a bit more light. The book isn’t literally light (it’s about 400 pages) but the story is told through humorous emails and letter correspondences, mixed in with the narrative insight of a teenage girl named Bee. The titular Bernadette is Bee’s mom, and she’s hated by everyone at her daughter’s elitist prep school. What they don’t know is that she once won a Macarthur Grant and was (for a moment) the most sought after architect in America. Years later, she’s a disheveled but entertaining mother, who — as you can probably guess — disappears. Her disappearance takes a while to get to, though, and in the mean time, there’s some great scenes with the dad (who works at Microsoft and impregnates this awful annoying lady named Soo-Lin) and the neighbors (whose house gets destroyed by a violent mudslide after Bernadette rips out all the blueberry plants.) The story also takes place in Seattle, which is my favorite city. So maybe I’m biased. But plainly put, this was a genuinely fun and refreshing read. If anything, it was a nice reminder that not everything has to be super fucking bleak and literary for it to be good.