"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple — book club discussion and menu
I usually find myself drawn toward books that are stereotypically emotional, more dramatic or dark. Therefore, Where'd You Go, Bernadette was an unusual choice for me, but I'm so glad I let myself get pulled in by the whimsical cover. And somehow, it packs a punch with emotion, drama and a few shadows of its own. Mysterious and endlessly funny, Bernadette is a perfect summer book club pick.
"WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE" DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What did you think of the letters and emails interspersed throughout the book? Did they add or take away from the story?
- How would you characterize Bernadette's family? Which of the three is most normal?
- Maria Semple formerly wrote for Arrested Development. How did that experience show in her writing, if at all?
- What did you think of how Bernadette describes Seattle, her neighbors and the school's fellow parents? Is she funny, bitter or something else?
- How does Semple display genius through the various members of the Fox family? Are there less literal examples of genius from any characters?
- Is Bernadette crazy?
- What are the problems in Bernadette and Elgin's marriage? Do they love each other?
- What does Antarctica represent for Bee? For Bernadette?
- How does this book question what it means to go missing? How did Bernadette go missing, other than in the literal sense?
- What makes Bee such a special child? What makes her similar or different from her peers?
- Which was your favorite flashbulb scene? Mine was the landslide.
When I paired Bernadette with wild mushroom risotto back in 2013, I drew on the idea that you can hunt for something that's there all along. In my case, that meant waiting for the moment Bernadette disappeared — only to realize that parts of her had been missing since the start. Here's a menu that complements this rustic, delicious dish.