Bernadette, mother of Bee, wife of a big wig at Microsoft, goes missing. Who was she, who is she, and where did she go?
Trust me, that's all you need to know. With the help of report cards, emails, faxes, and other seemingly random papers Bee documents the events leading up to her mother's disappearance and the subsequent search.
Epistolary novels are my weakness and this one is exceptionally good. The range of mediums, as well as writers and recipients, gives us a deep look into people's heads. And what interesting heads! Semple does a great job giving each character a distinct voice and making the whole thing funny to boot.
Starting feels a little bit like wading into the weeds but things come together quickly. Even after the narrative settled down Semple kept me on my toes by bringing up something I didn't know (AutoCAD, say) and letting it hang. It gnawed quietly on a corner of my brain for 10, 20, or 50 pages before a subtle explanation was dropped. More than once I found myself smiling and nodding in recognition, "ohhh, that thing!" Now and then there was a reference I did get (...AutoCAD, actually), letting me feel smart for a second.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette lives and breathes the axiom "show, don't tell". I don't want to spoil you, so let's just say that a powerpoint presentation is given in front of a large crowd. The speaker's clicker breaks two slides in, though, and he has to resort to explaining everything. It's perfect because it allows the transcript to be a full record while also showing the character's poise under pressure. Add in a live blogger's comments and it's masterful.The only fault I can find in the entire novel is a slightly slow part near the end, but it's so minor it's barely worth mentioning. Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a fun, engaging read just about anyone can enjoy.