Despite the cover, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is not chick lit; however, it is a great beach read, and summer is almost over (except if you live in Texas, like I do)! This novel is quite a romp. It has a zany, ridiculous plot and is full of little jibes at such things as suburban mothers who are overly involved in their children’s schools, Microsoft, and Seattle.
Bee loves her mother, who is creative and funny, but Bernadette has managed to alienate the other mothers at Bee’s school. She is slightly agoraphobic, so she stays home most of the time and does not volunteer at school, and she has hired a virtual personal assistant to help her run errands, even though Bee’s father doesn’t approve. Bee’s father Elgie is a computer genius who is practically worshipped at Microsoft and is seldom at home.
Bee’s parents have promised her that if she gets perfect grades, she can have any gift she wants. She picks a trip for the entire family to Antarctica over Christmas. To Bernadette, the idea of such a trip is intimidating, but she thinks Bee deserves it, so she begins ordering supplies online and getting Manjula, her online personal assistant, to take care of travel arrangements.
However, Bernadette’s dispute with a neighbor (and school mom enemy) about blackberry brambles creates complications that are both appalling and hilarious. When Elgie gets drawn in, he misunderstands what is going on because of his ignorance of home events. Crisis ensues, and Bernadette disappears on the eve of the trip.
Elgie is convinced that Bernadette had a breakdown, but Bee refuses to give up on her mother. She decides to try to figure out what happened the last few weeks before her mother disappeared.
My description does nothing to convey how cheeky, inventive, and funny this novel is. It is told in an epistolary style through emails from Bernadette to Manjula, emails between plotting mothers who hate Bernadette, emails between Elgie and his administrative assistant, and Bee’s record of her search for her mother. Bee and Bernadette are appealing, even while Bernadette is going a little crazy. If I have one little quibble, it’s that I don’t believe the personality change that one character undergoes. Still, if you want something light and lots of fun, this is the book for you. I have to thank my friend Gunjan for this recommendation.