The movie adaptation of Where'd You Go Bernadette, starring Cate Blanchett, has finally hit theaters (see Trailer), but all good bibliophiles know that the book is almost always better than the movie, and in the case of Where'd You Go Bernadette, the novel is absolutely fabulous and not to be missed. The titular character, Bernadette Fox wears many hats. She's a wife, mother, famed former architect, and for many mothers at the local school, the obnoxious bane of their existence. Bernadette is also a recluse, which proves a bit of a problem when her daughter, Bee, brings home the grades to earn a promised family trip to Antarctica.
Days before the family is to leave on their planned trip, Bernadette disappears and Bee, a precocious genius, is left putting the pieces together of where her mother has disappeared to. She does this by looking into her mother's emails and documents. Bee is a fabulous, fun narrator and what unfolds is a captivating mystery novel that is deeply emotional while also being utterly hilarious. It's an odd combination that few authors could pull off, but author Maria Semple achieves with aplomb. Softly satirical, the novel explores the sacrifices made by mothers for the sake of their children, the repercussions of an artistic soul left with no creative outlet and the strength of familial bonds to accept each other's failings and forgive the unforgivable. All characters, both primary and secondary, are well-drawn and multi-dimensional.
Verdict: A witty novel that will suck you in and hold on tight until the very last page. Prepare to laugh until you cry. Seriously, get the tissues ready!