Monday, May 13, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

What's the book about?

Bee, a 15 year old girl, tells the story of how her mother Bernadette disappeared in thin air. We pass through e-mails, conversations, any type of communication Bee managed to find that could shed some light as to why her mother flee their house in Seattle, days before they planned trip to Antartica. No one really knows what trigger the apparent collapse of this agoraphobic character, but Bee is determined to put the pieces of the puzzle together and to find her mother in the way.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

At first I thought I knew the characters; this feeling of the predictable type forming in my head. Yet, trough the book they have several turns that although not utterly surprising where not completely predictable either. I'm trying to not give away much with spoilers, but I was not expecting the side characters to grow on me as much as they did either a kind or mean, they all left a mark. 

What about the main character?

I'm going to work with Bernadette as the main character, although is very rare that we hear her side of the story, mostly everything is told by someone else. Bernadette is a 50 years old architect, we learn she is supposed to be a genius and as such (apparently) she does not cope well with failure and indirectly with personal relationships. In this case, she dwells in sorrow for some horrible thing that happened to her in the past and is unable to move on...although I have to say, maybe unable is not the word, more like reluctant. However, when she is with her daughter, she is happy again, she is herself. Bee knows the person underneath the "cold" exterior that everyone else seems to get.

Final thoughts

When I first started reading the book I was afraid it was going to be just like it was with I don't know how she does it, full of e-mails, broken conversations and characters I could not feel any empathy for. As it turns out, in this book the construction of the story through side character's communications ended up giving me a nice image of what was going on with the main characters. I liked Bernadette, not all the time, but most of it. Bee is a nice character and is not a carbon copy teenager that we so often see in books lately. Elgie, Bee's father got on my nerves a few times but at the end the fought and gain some love from this reader.

The reason why I'm giving this book a 3 is because, first of all, I was left hanging with the side characters. For situations that took such a big place in the whole situation I would've expected to know what happened with them. I don't know if this is intended to be a second part book, but I was under the impression this was supposed to be a stand-alone piece. 

Second of all, although the book had funny moments, it fell flat a couple of times and mostly I ended up wondering if this was in did it, if I was not missing some pages.

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