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  • Writer's pictureAliya

Bears, Beets, Book Club: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Welcome back to Bears, Beets, Book Club (if you don't understand the name of this illustrious book club, you need to bone up on your Office references). This time, we're "discussing" Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

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 her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all 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, and secret correspondence -- creating a compulsively readable and surprisingly touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

My mom gifted me this book a long time ago, and I never got around to reading it. Honestly, I initially didn't find the summary of the book very intriguing. But, after finishing The Bluest Eye, I craved a lighter read. So I cracked this one open, and admittedly, was pleasantly surprised.

No spoilers here. But one of my favorite things about the novel was it's focus on identity. Bernadette was a genius architect with so many strengths, but being a PTA mom and taking care of her home were not among them. Even so, struggling at the things she did not ask or desire to do caused of a lot of shame and anxiety for her. And I think that's super relatable, especially in this pandemic.

Am I a good Kindergarten math tutor? Not really. Did I ever aspire to be? Also no. Does failing at it sometimes cause me stress? You betcha. I feel you, Bernadette.

There's a lot more to the book. It's a compilation of emails, documents from health professionals, and Bee's observations that's funny and heartfelt and honest, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a casual, comfortable holiday read.

Note: Don't watch the movie trailer prior to reading the book - they laid out the entire plot in those two minutes (yikes).

Have you read this book? What did you think?


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