WHERE’D YOU GO by Bernadette Maria Semple

Posted: September 1, 2014 by BA Dillon in GUEST REVIEWERS - FICTION

Where’d You Go, BernadetteReviewed by Kathleen B.

As a private school teacher, this book hits home in a hilariously over the top way. The book follows the misadventures of Bernadette, a brilliant architect who has not designed anything in over a decade after an unsettling incident in California. She and her husband and daughter have since moved to Seattle, where her daughter is enrolled in a second tier private school that is desperately trying to improve its status. The entire book is written through a series of letters, emails, and legal documents, giving it a multiple voices from unique perspectives. Each voice brings a new level of absurdity that literally made me laugh out loud repeatedly.

At times Bernadette comes across as an eclectic anti-Seattleite; other times, she borders on severe mental illness and crippling anxiety. Her daughter, Bee, appreciates everything about her mother, and is unusual herself by being an incredibly well-adjusted and intelligent eighth grader. When Bernadette suddenly disappears, it is Bee who becomes determined to find her, and in the process finds out more than she ever knew about her anxiety-ridden mother. Semple captures the undercurrent of expectation present in so many elite social interactions with satirical humor. It is an enjoyable, brief read that will entertain anyone who either lives in Seattle, has experience with private schools, or can simply appreciate the humor in snobbery of all kinds.

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