People suck. Sometimes, this is more true than others. You’d rather curl up in a hole, under a rock than deal with anyone. In “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple, one mother drops everything and disappears.
Bernadette Fox is a Seattle architect, wife to a Microsoft-guru, and mom to a 15-year-old girl, Bee. As Bee overcomes a congenital heart defect and performs amazingly well at school, the other parents expect Bernadette to participate more. Unfortunately, Bernadette is agoraphobic to the extent of having a personal assistant in India facilitate her daily errands.
When Bee earns a trip to Antarctica, her mother mysteriously disappears leaving her daughter to piece together clues. Approximately 75% of the book is Bee’s compilations: emails, secret correspondence, magazine articles, and other clues that will help her discover where her mother has run off to.
Certain characters are just so over-the-top, like the obnoxious, housewife, neighbor Audrey, that you feel the tension that forced Bernadette to take off. The upper crust society that the Foxes live in is satirized in order to drive home how out of place a mom can feel when she is dropped into a society that she is not used to.
For some moms, this could be extremely relatable. Getting involved at school, for some, is like pulling teeth. The other moms seem too over-the-top with their sheer excitement and involvement. And we all know how competitive some moms can be when it comes to participating in their kids’ lives. Well, this is the book about a mom who literally can’t take that anymore.
It’s not a story about abandoning your child. The only thing in Bernadette’s life that she loves is her daughter. The point of the story is that sometimes, Mom needs to get away and take care of herself in order to serve her family the best she can.
So, now that the kids are off to school and not driving you up the wall all day, pick up this Mom-read and tell us what you think in the comments.