Where’d you go, Bernadette?

Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Quote: “Just because its complicated, just because you think you can’t know everything about another person, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.”
Setting: America – Present
Premise: Bee’s Mom is missing. But whilst everyone else is busy speculating why the eccentric genius who was Bernadette Fox would vanish from the radar, Bee is the only one making headway.

I was drawn to this book by the promise of something different, and I was not disappointed. This book is more than just a story, it’s a work of mixed media art and a cryptic puzzle to boot. At first, I was slightly worried by the idea of having to muddle my way through the mismatch of letters and emails that form the backbone of this story, as I’m a ‘last thing before bed’ kind of reader when my brain just wants a break. But it was a refreshingly novel experience. Despite flipping between letters, emails, diary entries, and Bee’s internal monologue, the story flows beautifully and fluidly through the twists and turns of this ingenious plot.

The main character, Bee, is our amateur sleuth in this mystery. Semple has written her with a distinct and authentic voice, letting her be a child in the right places, and wise beyond her years where her life experiences have supported it. The plot is a true and enjoyable mystery following the promise of the title premise. Every single page is dedicated to exactly that one question–where did Bernadette go? Every clue uncovered, and every connection made is deeply satisfying for both the reader and for the unstoppable Bee.

The theme of this book is trust. Bee’s trust that her Mom didn’t just abandon her is challenged again and again as she endeavours to find her. For the reader there is a lot to learn from the young protagonist who simply will not give up for as long as Bernadette is missing, and I found that rooting for Bee all the way to the answer of this book’s title was a very rewarding experience.

This book has had a lot of hype in the marketing world and has also been adapted into a film, but I can categorically say that it’s not just hype. This story is unique, powerful, and a true experience for the reader. A perfect puzzle to get your teeth stuck into!

You’ve heard enough about how much I like this book, but is this book you’re hunting for?
1. Are you in the mood for something a bit different?
2. Do you want an intriguing puzzle to solve?
3. Do you want to know where Bernadette did go?

If you answered yes, yES, YES! Then this might well be your next favourite read!


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