Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Sister got me this book for Christmas this year because she saw it in one of the Black Friday papers as being highly recommended. Here's what the cover says:
Bernadette Fox has vanished.
Bernadette is a frightfully intelligent wife and mother whose intense allergy to Seattle specifically, and to people in general, has driving her to hire a virtual assistant in India to execute even her most basic tasks. Then her daughter, Bee, insists of a family trip to Antarctica as her reward for getting perfect grades in middle school, and Bernadette is faced with the daunting prospect of actual human interaction.
The timing could not be worse. Worn down by years of dealing with Seattle's polite drivers overzealous moms, and proximity to Idaho (and don't even get her started on Canada). Bernadette is already on the brink of a breakdown. Throw in a feud with her neighbor over Bernadette's rampant blackberry bushes, the scandal that erupts when the runs over another mother's foot at the school drop off, and a class fundraiser that goes disastrously awry - and it's all too much. Bernadette vanishes, leaving her Microsoft-guru husband, a horde of angry parents, and questioning police officers to pick up the pieces.
Desperate to find her mother, Bee probes her emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence, conjuring out those shards of a portrait of a woman she never knew before - and a secret that could explain everything.
Let me start by saying that this book was NOTHING like I was expecting it to be. I thought going into it that this woman must hate her life and her daughter and her husband because why else would she just disappear? I also was expecting it to be written like any normal book. But instead it is primarily consisting of correspondence between Bernadette and the other people in her life... e mails and faxes between her Indian assistant, notes from her neighbor that she hates, e mails between moms and teachers at her daughter's school, etc. It was really kind of a neat way to read it because it shows everybody's different points of view. It was also quite funny. I really didn't expect it to be funny when I read what it was about, but I found myself laughing out loud.
The ending was a little strange though... it was NOT what I was expecting at all, and left a little bit to be desired. You have all this build up to what happened to her and you have all these ideas in your head as to where she could be. And then you get to the end and you go "well shit, I didn't think THAT'S where she would be..."
Overall it was a great book. Funny where it should be, intense where it should be, and all around very entertaining to read.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
the only weird thing? At the end, there are two randomly inserted pages from the middle of the book. The page numbers were in order, but you turned the page and find yourself reading things that you already read 75 pages earlier... and then you turn the page again and you're back where you should be. Very odd.