Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is about a wild-minded, misanthropic woman who’s so vexed by basic human interaction that she outsources her life to a virtual assistant in India. As the book begins, Bernadette goes missing on the eve of a family trip to Antarctica. To find her mother, 15-year-old Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence, creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about a misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s roles in an absurd world. In the process, Bee finds Bernadette, but also uncovers a deeper truth about a woman who once held so much promise, only to go horribly off the rails. It’s satirical and unruly, but ultimately it’s a mother-daughter love story. Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary.

About the Author

Maria Semple was born in Santa Monica, California. She received a B.A. in English from Barnard College in 1986, hoping to become a novelist or a teacher. Those dreams got derailed when she sold a movie script to Twentieth Century Fox just after graduation. The movie didn’t get made, but she moved to LA and made a living writing more screenplays that didn’t get made. Her friend, Darren Star, gave her a job writing for his TV show, Beverly Hills, 90210. That began a fifteen-year career in television, writing for shows like Ellen, Mad About You, and Arrested Development.

Semple is active in the Seattle literary community and is a founding member of Seattle 7 Writers. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker Magazine. She has also taught fiction writing at the Richard Hugo House. Semple is in a relationship with George Meyer and has one daughter with him, Poppy. They reside in Seattle.

Related Events

Green Buildings of Grand Rapids

Green Buildings of Grand Rapids

Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

What are green buildings? Why all the hype about them and what are the benefits? Why is Grand Rapids a nationally recognized leader in the green building and sustainability movement? Renae Hesselink, founding member of the West Michigan chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and vice president of sustainability at Nichols Paper will answer these questions and more. Come learn tips that will help make your home healthier and a more efficient place to live.

GR Modern: Home Architecture 1945-1970

GR Modern: Home Architecture 1945-1970

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 7:00 pm
Temple Emanuel – 1715 Fulton Street E

Architects and developers solved the post-WWII Grand Rapids housing shortage with a new vision, using innovative materials and building techniques. They reshaped and expanded the city, developing new neighborhoods and creating stunning modern designs. Join Pamela VanderPloeg, architectural researcher at West Michigan Modern, for a photographic journey into the heart of Grand Rapids’ mid-century modern architecture, 1945-1970. This program will be presented at Temple Emmanuel designed by internationally renowned modern architect Eric Mendelsohn.

World’s Best LEED Building

World’s Best LEED Building

Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 7:00 pm
Catalyst Partners – 502 2nd Street NW

Tour the little brick building on Grand Rapids’ West Side that achieved the world’s highest LEED rating—LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Learn how the building’s owners transformed the 95-year-old building into a catalyst for sustainable and restorative development in Grand Rapids. The building features a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system, uses solar panels on the roof, used repurposed materials, has a rain garden, and is 60% less expensive to operate than a traditional office space. Join Eric Doyle of Catalyst Partners on a behind the scenes tour of this green space.

Adventures in Antarctica—Exploring and Protecting Earth’s Last Great Wilderness

Adventures in Antarctica—Exploring and Protecting Earth’s Last Great Wilderness

Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

Educator Susan Tate had the adventure of a lifetime in March 2013 when she joined famed polar explorer and environmental leader Sir Robert Swan on his International Antarctic Expedition with the group 2041. As one of 80 participants from 28 nations, Susan explored the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and experienced Robert’s Leadership on the Edge program. She will share pictures and stories from her trip, as well as information about Antarctica’s plight in our changing world.