Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
A Novel

90%

25 Critic Reviews

Semple's background is in television comedy and this is a very funny book in places; she gets in a few good digs at Seattle, self-help culture and the American private school system, but she also handles the metaphoric weight of Bernadette's disappearing act with real skill.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.
 

About Maria Semple

See more books from this Author
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.
 
Published August 14, 2012 by Little, Brown and Company. 335 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Other. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon30
Peak Rank on Sep 02 2012
icon2
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
5
Want to Read
1
Have Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Where'd You Go, Bernadette
All: 25 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by JULIE BOSMAN on Aug 16 2012

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” published this week by Little, Brown & Company, has emerged as one of the most absorbing novels of the summer.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Aug 06 2012

There’s much more merriment to Bernadette’s getting lost than to if, when and how she will be found.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Natasha Tripney on Jul 06 2013

Semple's background is in television comedy and this is a very funny book in places; she gets in a few good digs at Seattle, self-help culture and the American private school system, but she also handles the metaphoric weight of Bernadette's disappearing act with real skill.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Natasha Tripney on Jul 06 2013

...utterly consuming and ultimately wonderful, it's refreshing in its honesty and complexity.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Justine Jordan on Jun 29 2012

In her spiky but essentially feelgood universe, failure and self-exposure open up a rich seam of comedy, but shame can always be vanquished by love.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Anna Trench on Jun 23 2012

Semple's second novel is a witty, thrilling adventure about creation, destruction, the Antarctic – and the maternal bond.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
May 14 2012

...the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying dénouement.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Aug 14 2012

There's a lot to like in Semple's charming novel, including the vivacious humor and the lesson that when creative forces like Bernadette stop creating, they become "a menace to society."

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from NPR

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Carty Lepri on Aug 14 2012

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is written in journalistic fashion, each character speaking in his or her own voice. The reader becomes privy to every player’s thoughts, reactions, and feelings...making for an intense and compelling tale.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Stephan Lee on Aug 10 2012

Semple, who wrote for TV's Arrested Development, has imagined a comic, often frustrating, but ultimately engrossing and whip-smart modern epistolary novel in Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Aug 12 2012

She has written a fantastic, funny novel. Its affecting characters, not-necessarily-nice humor and surprising plot twists make this novel an enchanting ride.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A... | See more reviews from LA Times

Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp

...she brings plenty of squirming comedy to the novel, which manages to be that rare good read that actually makes you feel good at the end.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Korina Lopez on Aug 15 2012

Semple paints each character with depth and tenderness while keeping the tone upbeat; no easy feat for a novel about a mother who pulls a disappearing act.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Malena Watrous on Sep 03 2012

...I found myself reading passages from almost every page to anyone who would listen, even as I could barely articulate the words through my own laughter.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Below average
Reviewed by Nan Willard Cappo on Aug 12 2012

...Bernadette so pointlessly squanders her talent -- without the excuse of true insanity -- that her perverseness outweighs the book's humor. Ms. Semple's writing is deft but not enough to make this fact funny.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary Ann Gwinn on Aug 11 2012

Semple has a big heart, and possesses that rare ability to skewer, dissect and empathize with her targets, all at the same time.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Tucker Shaw on Aug 19 2012

Where'd You Go Bernadette, outrageously funny and deceptively deep, is a rewarding read.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Coll on Aug 21 2012

This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The Miami Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Connie Ogle on Sep 21 2012

...she has produced a great gift to avid readers: a book that you never want to finish reading. Take her up on this offer, and you will not be disappointed.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The Millions

Excellent
Reviewed by Janet Potter on Aug 28 2012

...if you’re willing to enjoy it as a parody of first-world life then you’ll like this book. It’s really funny.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Mail Online

Excellent
Reviewed by John Koski on Jun 09 2012

Despite its underlying despair, this is no neurotic gloomfest, but a clever, witty page-turner with sparkling dialogue, some hilarious episodes and a heart that gradually melts.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The L Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeremy Medina on Sep 26 2012

In a time when everything is a version of something else, how extraordinary—and exciting—to read a novel that sub-verts conventions to create an experience that feels so fresh.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Aspen Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Stewart Oksenhorn on Aug 17 2012

Semple's ear for satirizing this world is sharp and scathingly funny; she could probably turn her novel into a stand-up act.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Seattle Met

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Dannen on Aug 08 2012

At its best, Where'd You Go, Bernadette not only pokes fun at the city but at the biases of transplants—and if there's anything we all need a lesson in, it's how to laugh at ourselves.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

The Stranger

Below average
Reviewed by Paul Constant on Aug 08 2012

The book stumbles a bit in the middle as it transitions from a scathing anti-Seattle manifesto into a family drama with comic undertones.

Read Full Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A...

Reader Rating for Where'd You Go, Bernadette
82%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 6394 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

User Review

Terri McGinty 23 May 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

User Review

Suellen May 19 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

Alma Marhamati

Alma Marhamati 15 May 2016

Added the book to want to read list

Diane Cooke

Diane Cooke 3 Jan 2016

Added the book to want to read list

Palak Chandna

Palak Chandna 2 Mar 2014

Liked the book

Palak Chandna

Palak Chandna 2 Mar 2014

Has read the book

mareth

mareth 3 Nov 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Anna Schissel

Anna Schissel 10 Sep 2013

Liked the book

Jonas Maltha

Jonas Maltha 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Cheryl O'Connor

Cheryl O'Connor 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list