Saturday, August 1, 2015

Where'd You Go, By Maria Semple Book Review

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

My rating: 5/5

“A little social anxiety never hurt anyone, right?”

Where’d you Go is a heart-warming and satirical story about a mother and a daughter and their life in the suburbs.

Bee is an A’s student, not surprise considering her architect mother and Microsoft employee father. She’s bright and funny and so her mother Bernadette would do anything for her, even if that means sending her to a private school with elitists parents and living in a neighbourhood with all too demanding neighbours. Bernadette has always struggled with social anxiety but has managed not to view it as something bad or to fix and rather a part of herself to deal with like any other. But when her daughter asks for a trip to Antarctica and her husband starts planning an “intervention” to help his wife with his mental issues, the artist and mother can’t take it anymore and so she disappears leaving her daughter in a quest to discover where she went to.

I loved, loved this book! It was such a fun perspective from a social anxious person and how people responded around her, some people loved her, others catalogued her as “weird” or simply rude always taking into account their feelings before her needs. There was a sarcastic undertone to every page that I loved, and I found myself laughing more than once.

The first part is composed by Bee’s collection of emails and information about her mother in an attempt to share her story, and it was a good way to present this story of a girl searching for her mother, even if other people didn’t understand her or thought Bernadette was simply never coming back.

“Mom disappears into thin air two days before Christmas without telling me? Of course it’s complicated. Just because it’s complicated, just because you think you can’t ever know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.
It doesn’t mean I can’t try.”

She was a very mature girl for her age, and because she knew her mother so well it was what made this story all the better. Bee doesn’t blame Bernadette for her issues or resents the fact that she doesn’t go outside, they have a relationship of unconditional love and understanding that most families would hope for, while still maintaining and accepting their flaws.

Definitely one of my favourites this year, Maria Semple knows how to write wonderful characters and leave a profound message with a sharp sense of humor.

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