Diaries Magazine

Where'd You Go Bernadette| Review

Posted on the 08 July 2014 by Gracem16 @TSITR_Gracie
Hey guys,
So as you may know, videoing is down so blogging is a go. 'Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple' was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 and at 321 pages, it is a short enough read for me to be interested. I borrowed my hardback cover for the public library and was pretty pleased I did.
Told in an episodic fashion, Where'd You Go Bernadette or (WYGB for short) is a book I found hard to laugh at despite the acclaims that it is a funny, rip-roaring read, I also felt it dragged and each episodic part seemed to latch to me, leaving me unable to push forward with the action. The story line was hard to find plausible, a young girl (Bee, Bernadette's daughter) who wishes to go to Antarctica as this is what she has been studying at school. I may have got lost within the whole episodic narrative, and missed a key part of why Antarctica is so key to the plot narrative but I must have missed the memo. It's not that I didn't enjoy WYGB it's the difficulty I had reading it, finding it somewhat dull despite the quirky and bright cover that made me interested in the first place.
It's the fact that I simply just didn't like it, there were some elements I did like, it would be wrong to discredit the whole novel simply through flaws I found. I did enjoy the character of Bernadette and because the episodic structure I feel that we didn't see enough Bernadette or of Bee (Bernadette's daughter). I felt like there was definitely more behind this relationship but as a reader I couldn't engage with that, as I was sucked back to the minor characters fueling the main arch of the story. These characters although minor did have a part to play, but Semple could have easily added more of a narrative between Bee and Bernadette.
The end, spoilers.
The end wasn't WOW, it was more... that's it? Hmm okay. I felt like I was cut off from the whole book, as if Semple had said "yeah, I'm pretty much done with this book now. I'll send it off." There seemed to be no resolve, there seemed to be a lot of loose ends. An example of this is when one the minor characters that becomes romantically involved with Bee's fathers becomes pregnant. Is it important what happens to the baby? Well no. But what impact this has on Bernadette and the family, well I'm not sure. It seemed that the time of 'Where'd You Go Bernadette' was resolved in the final pages and any after effect of that simply was just absent. It didn't matter about the other characters, this was Bernadette's story, that's what I got from this book. It was her story.
Have you read it? What did you think?

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