Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
352 pages; Back Bay Books

Because we laughed so hard it was almost unseemly.

You don't have to know Seattle to get Maria Semple's broadly satirical novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette. The title character, a middle-aged Los Angeles transplant, lives in the Emerald City with her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, and her husband, Elgin, a big-deal executive at (where else?) Microsoft. Once a brilliant young architect, Bernadette now pours her energy into ranting about the flaws of her adopted city: slow drivers, ugly hair, too many Canadians. Eventually, Bernadette goes missing and her family uses e-mails and other documents to try to find her. Underlying the nontraditional narrative are insights into the cost of thwarted creativity and the power of mother-daughter bonds, although a reader may be having too much fun to notice.
— Karen Holt