In Short: Bernadette Fox, quirky architectural genius and mom to Bee, goes missing. The events leading up to her disappearance are pieced together through letters, hospital bills, emails, and other methods of correspondence.
Why I Listened: You guys made me do it once again. I specifically
blame thank Meg of WriteMeg for urging me toward the audio.
Thoughts in General: I somehow missed that Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an epistolary novel (these things do happen when you make it a point to know very little about a book before reading it). I was taken off guard at the beginning and it took a bit for me to gain my bearings with the book. Soon, though, I just allowed myself to be swept into the craziness of the characters in the book.
Because this is an epistolary novel, perspective and point of view play a large role. What especially struck me while listening was how the characters, many of them mothers whose children attend the same school, viewed one another and placed judgment based on what they knew (or didn’t know) about one another. The truth in this shook me a bit and made me think about how I’ve jumped to conclusions about others–or how others have jumped to conclusions about me. We never really know a person’s entire story…possibly not even if they’ve shared it with us themselves.
The assumptions and presumptions and miscommunications throughout the book were my great takeaway. While on the surface Bernadette seems like a lighthearted read, I found Semple’s social commentary to be biting at times. And there is an underlying sadness throughout the book, I’m not sure I really connected with or cared about any of the characters greatly but I was always certainly interested in getting to the bottom of just what happened to Bernadette…and why.
Bottom Line: Good on so many levels, but best on audiobook. Seriously–if you’re gonna read this one, at least try the audio!
Notes on the Audio: Hands down best fiction audiobook I’ve listened to. The previous record holder was Ready Player One, but I think that Kathleen Wilhoite’s performance dethroned Wil Wheaton’s. It wasn’t until halfway through my listening that I realized who Kathleen Wilhoite is, but her vocal range was so captivating that I hated to stop listening to this book. I’m not sure I would have been so taken with this book in print–hearing the tone of the characters through Wilhoite really made this book shine for me.
Have you read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Can I suggested the audio version to you?