Another recommendation from a friend: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
Primarily epistolary in composition, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is an engaging and complex look at families, Seattle, the Microsoft ethos, genius and intelligence, and mistaken impressions.
The book begins with a series of emails from Bernadette Fox to her virtual assistant and between her neighbor Audrey and Audrey’s friend, Soo-Lin. Audrey, Soo-Lin, and Bernadette are also mothers of students at a local private school. Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, also has a voice in the book.
Bernadette doesn’t handle life very well. She manages to mostly keep it together but when Bee asks for a trip to Antarctica as her eighth grade graduation gift, the prospect of the southern hemisphere cruise proves more than Bernadette can handle.
Bee’s father, Elgin, is a Microsoft employee working on the most revolutionary technology of this generation.
Bernadette hates Seattle, Microsoft, and Canadians and Semple isn’t afraid to let Bernadette speak her mind. It makes for a funny and poignant story.
It’s hard to review this one without giving away too much.
Many of the reviews and praise and blurbs mention that the book is an examination of familial dysfunction.
Bee and her family are no more dysfunctional than many families today. Yes, they’re all geniuses of one sort or another, but frankly every family has its issues.
In an engaging and entertaining book, Semple manages to skewer Seattle, helicopter parenting, Microsoft, the glorification of victimhood, and the foibles of extraordinary people trying to survive in an ordinary world.
The ending is satisfactory, in spite of one hanging loose thread.
I loved this one and highly recommend it!