Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria SempleWhere’d You Go, Bernadette?: What it is about

From Goodreads: “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.”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?: What I thought

An easy going book. It consists of a number of emails, notes and diary entries by people who deal with Bernadette in some way or another.

In most of the book Bernadette herself is present. She’s involved in many situations. No-one in her little town likes her and her husband thinks she’s going crazy. I got a impression about Bernadette that I kept having to adjust. That was nicely done.

The different pieces in the book are alternated with the diary of the daughter, Bee, who is actually the most important person in the book. She is a very intelligent teenager but lives her own live. From her diary it becomes clear that she doesn’t have a clue what’s really going on.

The neighbors are awkward people but Bernadette gets the blame for everything that goes wrong. People gossip about her, especially her neighbor and the neighbor’s friend, who is also the secretary of Bernadette’s husband.

Eventually, Bernadette goes missing and Bee and her father undertake an adventurous trip in order to try and find her back, almost against all odds.

I loved this crazy book with mad neighbors, an unlikely holiday, a psychiatrist who’s totally out of line, an Indian virtual assistant, and much more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (good to very good)

Number of pages: 330

First published: 2012

I got this: bought myself

Genre: contemporary fiction, humor


About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

18 Responses to Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

  1. I really like this one. Speaks to me in many ways. Will write title down for next library visit.

  2. Amy Sachs says:

    This is one of my favorites, Bernadette and her antics cracked me up! Great review !

  3. bibliosue says:

    I am in the minority, but I just did not get the attraction of this book. Maybe I’m just too grumpy.

  4. debbierodgers says:

    Me too, Bibliosue. My review said: “After all the raves about this book last year, I was disappointed by this novel. I so looked forward to the epistolary format but, honestly, the emails, letters and articles seemed forced, and the plot farcical.” and more along that line. 😦

    But you are definitely in the majority, Judith! 🙂

  5. Athira says:

    This book was just amazing to read! So funny and hilarious! Sometimes I want to reread it and laugh again.

  6. I absolutely adored this book. Raved about it until all of the other librarians read it too!! My thoughts were that it sucked me in with humor but displayed some real meat on those funny bones in the form of women’s roles and self identity. Loved it enough to buy it! Glad you did too!

  7. Care says:

    I really loved this one, too.

  8. Mystica says:

    I am one of the very few who found this book a tad dull!

  9. Isi says:

    This cover doesn’t say anything to me, but after reading lots of possitive reviews, I have the book on my list. I’m glad you enjoyed too.

  10. I’m glad you loved it – I adored it, but my family didn’t agree with me. I thought Bernadette was wonderfully eccentric!

  11. Pingback: Waar is Bernadette? – Maria Semple | Lalagè leest

  12. Leslie says:

    This was a favorite of mine too.

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