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Beach Reads: "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple

By Emma Tremblay,

Reasons to Read:

1. Author/comedian Maria Semple wrote for the TV show Arrested Development and the book, partially based off her own life, is laugh-out-loud funny.

2. It’s listed as one of the top books by the summer by reviewers on NPR and the NY Times (don’t just trust me!)

Page Count: 330 (paperback)

For Fans of: Comedy, Portlandia, fiction, satire, Seattle, epistolary novels, family drama

No-Spoilers Plot:
15-year-old child prodigy Bee is the daughter of Bernadette Fox, MacArthur “genius” grant winner for architecture, and Microsoft guru Elgin Branch, made famous by a TED Talk. Bee’s mother has been a likeable but friendless shut-in since a horrible mishap before Bee’s birth, and her father has slowly detached from Bernadette, so Bee decides her family should bond over a trip to Antarctica. When Bernadette disappears on the eve of the journey, it is left to Bee to piece things together.

The Long and Short:
I never enjoyed a book recommended to me as “funny” before “Bernadette.” As long as you’re willing to suspend reality for the entire duration of the book, you will love it; it's fun, fast-paced, witty, occasionally acidic, and completely wacky (it might better be titled “A Series of Impossible Events”). Managing crazy, realistic characters and situations everyone knows—overinvolved, melodramatic moms; sycophantic, wishy-washy friends; internet mishaps—Semple taps into frustration, hatred, and rage to create humor.

Every Thursday(ish), I’ll be posting a new book recommendation, aiming for light beach reading material. Got a recommendation for me? Response to the book? Comment below!

Photo Courtesy of Tumblr

 
 

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