Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Club-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.
While the book is not perfect, as a whole it is very engaging.  I really enjoyed it. There is funny dialogue, meaningful moments, and incidents that can only be described as awesome but absurd. Kindergarten program anybody?  The characters all have qualities that border on crazy but that you can completely relate to. With all of the mothers in the neighborhood you start to think, I totally know somebody like that.

The majority of the book is a compilation of letters, emails, and E.R. bills, F.B.I documents.  A small part of it is narrated by Bee (can I just say again that I love how Bee’s greatest aspiration is to go to Antarctica). This type of writing would normally  have me worried but I realized it has a lot of strengths. The format allows for a lot of character development. You get to hear the innermost thoughts of these characters, how they feel about each other, and how they interact with one another. And, Maria Semple is a talented writer. She is very adept at giving each individual character a distinct voice. (Just for your Gee Whiz file, she used to be a t.v. writer. She wrote for a little show you might have heard of-Arrested Development). I really enjoy when you hear a character, and you don’t have to rely as much on physical descriptions to bring them to life.
Burnadette might have issues to deal with but she is very funny and my favorite character in the whole book.

“Americans are pushy, obnoxious, neurotic, crass - anything and everything - the full catastrophe as our friend Zorba might say. Canadians are none of that. The way you might fear a cow sitting down in the middle of the street during rush hour, that's how I fear Canadians. To Canadians, everyone is equal. Joni Mitchell is interchangeable with a secretary at open-mic night. Frank Gehry is no greater than a hack pumping out McMansions on AutoCAD. John Candy is no funnier than Uncle Lou when he gets a couple of beers in him. No wonder the only Canadians anyone's ever heard of are the ones who have gotten the hell out. Anyone with talent who stayed would be flattened under an avalanche of equality. The thing Canadians don't understand is that some people are extraordinary and should be treated as such.” 

This book is a quick, easy read. And it’s full words of wisdom. Go pick it up and read. Let me know what you think.

You’re bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s ON YOU to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

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