Reviews for Where'd You Go, Bernadette : A Novel
Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
*Starred Review* Bernadette Fox, practically a shut-in, who's hired a virtual assistant in India to remotely arrange every task, from hiring a gardener to planning the trip to Antarctica she's promised her star-student daughter, Bee seems pretty crazy. But don't be fooled. Suspicions that madcap Bernadette is as clever as her last name implies will be confirmed heartily. When she's party to some unfortunate events, her erratic behavior leads her husband, Microsoft guru Elgin Branch, to commit her to a local mental-health facility. But Bernadette intercepts his plan at the pass, escapes the staged intervention, and disappears without a trace. Though much of the story is told through documents--e-mails, letters, magazine articles--precocious young teen Bee as narrator is great company, entertaining and convincing in her comportment. TV writer Semple (Arrested Development) pokes fun at the Pacific Northwest as only a Seattlelite can and concocts a caper that, if seen from outer space, might be a mess but in the minutiae of its tangles is clear and rewarding. Under the guise of a hilarious romp, Semple explores the universal questions of why we do what we do and love what we love to some sweet and unexpected ends. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
From Semple (This One Is Mine, 2008), a cleverly constructed Internet-age domestic comedy about a wife/mother/genius architect who goes a little nuts from living in that cesspool of perfection and bad weather called Seattle. Bernadette left Los Angeles years earlier after a professional disaster: After she won a MacArthur grant for building a house using only materials that originated within 20 miles of the site, vengeful neighbors had the house destroyed. Now she lives in Seattle with her equally genius husband, Elgie, who is working on a big project in artificial intelligence at Microsoft, and their genius eighth-grade daughter, Bee, whose devotion to her mother is one of the novel's least credible plot points. Bernadette may be brilliant and funny, but she is also mean-spirited and self-absorbed, with a definite case of entitlement that the author too frequently seems to share. She certainly hates everything about Seattle, especially the other mothers at Bee's crunchy-granola private school. Because she hates to leave her house, a crumbling ruin she's never bothered to renovate, she has hired a personal assistant in India to run her life via the Internet. After her vendetta against one of her Seattle mommy-enemies goes terribly awry, Elgie begins to wonder if she is having a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, Bernadette decides she wants to get out of a planned family trip to Antarctica. Days before the trip, in the middle of an intervention Elgie has plotted with his adoring administrative assistant, Bernadette disappears. To makes sense of the disappearance, Bee creates a book by collating the Internet postings, public records and private emails she has received from an anonymous source. Although there are wonderful scenes of deadpan absurdity--Semple wrote for Arrested Development--Seattle, already the butt of so much humor lately, seems an awfully easy mark. The tone is sharply witty if slightly condescending, but ultimately Semple goes for the heartstrings. A fun beach read for urban sophisticates or those who think they are. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 March #2
To her Microsoft husband and the other private-school moms in Seattle, Bernadette Fox is a holy terror; to her 15-year-old, Bee, she's her beloved mom. But when Bee demands the trip to Antarctica she was promised for delivering a slam-dunk report card, the increasingly agoraphobic Bernadette disappears. Huge in-house excitement; rights sold to nine countries. [Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 July #1
What does a genius architect do when the neighbor with whom she's been feuding destroys her greatest work of art? In Semple's second novel (after This One is Mine) she moves from the scene of the crime (Los Angeles) to a city where she's less likely to get into trouble (Seattle). Bernadette, the genius architect, is married to Elgin, also a genius, who has taken a job at Microsoft. Unfortunately, Bernadette manages to get involved in some serious neighbor drama in her new city--even though she barely leaves her house. Owing to the madness in LA, Bernadette has lost her creative drive, which has been replaced with an insanity that affects everyone around her, including her teenaged daughter, Bee. Eventually, Bernadette flees Seattle with the help of an unlikely ally. Then it is up to the ones who love her the most to answer the question the title poses. VERDICT Interestingly written in the form of emails, memos, and articles with very little narrative prose, this fun read is filled with quirky characters and eccentric circumstances. With elements similar to an Anne Tyler novel or a Wes Anderson film, this is sure to be a hit with readers who appreciate offbeat characters and an original story. [See Prepub Alert, 2/12/12.]--Karen Core, Detroit P.L. [Page 78]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 May #2
In her second novel (after This One Is Mine), Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity. Eighth-grader Bee is the daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and Bernadette Fox, a once-famous architect who has become a recluse in her Seattle home. Bee has a simple request: a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for her good grades. Her parents acquiesce, but not without trepidation. Bernadette's social anxiety has become so overwhelming that she's employed a personal assistant from Delhi Virtual Assistants Intl. (who makes "./ReviewSyndication.pl.75 USD/hr.") for tasks as simple as making dinner reservations. How will she survive three weeks on a boat with other live human beings? Maybe she won't; a day before the trip, Bernadette disappears, and Bee gathers her mother's invoices, e-mail correspondence, and emergency room bills in the hopes of finding clues as to where she went.The result is a compelling composite of a woman's life--and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. As expected from a writer who has written episodes of Arrested Development, the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying dénouement. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC