Read on November 22, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

Faithful readers of this blog will know that I like my books brutal and in-your-face.  I need strong characters facing tragic circumstances in unconventional settings, and woe betide the author who tries to feed me a happily ever after without adding a pinch of salt.

 

Then, there was Bernadette.  She had been recommended to me by people whose judgment I value.  She might be a refreshing change of pace.  But was I willing to risk my precious evenings and weekends on something so far out?  I rolled the dice and gave it my best shot.

 

i fell totally and completely in love with the characters.  They are unique, articulate and tell their story brilliantly.  And what is even better is the WAY they tell it - in their own words, through their own writings.  Author Maria Semple does not impose a point of view - instead, she lets the reader decide for himself or herself which perspective is most credible.

 

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to this book is that it is laugh-out-loud funny!  For decades, I have eschewed all forms of comedy, as a once-great genre has turned slapstick and pathetic.  This book proved to me that humour could be both clean and intelligent.  BraVo, Ms. Semple.

 

So why am I withholding a half star?  First, the narration.  I rarely pick on audiobooks - they've transformed the way I read - but really, your 15 year old protagonist should NOT sound as if she is nine.  and most of your characters are "Seattle-born", so why do they sound like New Yorkers?  Bizarre choices, in my view, made the audio both perplexing and distracting.  Secondly, I've been on a lot of cruise ships.  i'm OK with suspending disbelief, but when your characters are doing things that place themselves and other passengers at risk, aren't physically or materially possible, or would get them banned by the cruise line for life (yes, it DOES happen!) - well, you're going to lose me.  But it was with great regret that I took off that 1/2 star :(