Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Happy Saturday and cheers to a FLASHBACK review! My first flashback review of 2021 and I revisited a true gem. My first epistolary novel and I loved it – smart, sharp, witty, and totally hilarious.
A modern-day genius epistolary novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette‘s first three-fourths are in the form of emails, articles, notes, bills, and other assorted correspondences put together by Bee, Bernadette’s fifteen-year-old daughter, in an attempt to tell Bernadette’s story: who she is, what made her the way she is, and ultimately, what led her to disappear.
Who is Bernadette or rather who was Bernadette? She was a brilliant eccentric architect that was awarded a MacArthur genius grant, but when a very special project of hers was destroyed (!!), Bernadette’s mental health started to decline. It worsened when her husband, Elgie, began working for Microsoft and they all moved to Seattle. Bernadette hates Seattle, hates the parents of the snotty kids Bee goes to school with, hates Microsoft, and just hates what her life has become. She can’t create art anymore, her mental health is waning as the days go by, and she’s now an agoraphobic.
Already pumped full of anxiety and paranoia, a series of events – Bee’s idea to go on a family trip for Antarctica, encounters with Audrey (the stuck-up next door neighbor) and a real unfortunate mudslide that destroys Audrey’s house – pushes Bernadette to the edge and she disappears. This isn’t like a thriller/mystery though, Bernadette has a perfect excuse as to why she went where she did and what she is doing there.
“My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like I’m going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I’m about to kick the shit out of life.”
This book is a whole lot of fun, but my favorite part was really getting to know Bernadette. She is such a memorable, quirk, and peculiar character. I mean, this woman is really going through it; but the ending is so heartwarming and moving! Readers are left with a beautiful message – love yourself, take care of yourself, and do what makes you happy.