Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple


Her gray hair was coming out of its ponytail, and she was wearing clogs, and under her down vest you could see the pleats on her jeans bulging out.

Bee’s mother, Bernadette, goes missing right before Christmas. Full of questions her dad won’t even attempt to answer, Bee goes on a search to figure out who exactly her mother is and why she suddenly disappeared. The resulting account is pieced together from her own recollections and personal e-mails that she has gotten her hands on. The picture we get is of a lonely, reclusive woman who shuns the obnoxious mothers in the neighborhood in favor of pursuing a one-sided, unintentionally racist relationship with a personal assistant in India, who is not all she seems. When others give Bernadette up as lost forever, Bee decides to use what she has learned about her mother’s last month with them and decides to track her down.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette spoke directly to my hate filled heart. I nodded so hard and so frequently in agreement with Bernadette’s thoughts on Seattle that my neck became stiff and sore. Her hatred for the crazy, overzealous parents. How she never tired of ranting against five way intersections and the ‘helter skelter layout of Seattle streets’. Her insistence ‘on wearing stylish clothes, in protest against everyone else’s terrible taste in fashion.’ It was as if I was Bernadette. I, too, came home from Seattle ranting against the insane intersections and regaling friends with the story of the saddest outfit I had ever seen: A girl in heels and a fleece vest. It appalled me far more than the man’s outfit on the subway that consisted of a t-shirt and a pair of jeans with a hole made intentionally in the crotch so that his balls would hang out.

So what if at the end the story goes a little crazy? Everything leading up to it is pure truth and I hope the whole of Seattle reads this and wakes up from this nightmare world they have created.

One of the main reasons I don’t like leaving the house is because I might find myself face-to-face with a Canadian. Seattle is crawling with them.


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