I blew through this book in less than a day (a WORK DAY) because oh my god I could not put it down. It is addicting, like, Big Little Lies addicting, in the good way. They’re making this into a movie with Cate Blanchett in the lead and oh. my. god. I cannot wait.
This is another one where the premise sounds utterly inane. The titular Bernadette is a woman with high anxiety (along with a host of other issues), living in suburban Seattle with her husband and daughter. Life goes crazy, she disappears, the daughter pursues. At least that’s how it’s presented. Didn’t sound all that engaging, but the library recommended, so worst case scenario, it’s still free.
Bernadette is a Woman with a Background (I refuse to spoil anything y’all it is so much better to read and discover). For all her eccentricities, that include refusing to engage with the world at large whatsoever, she is a brilliant woman and loving mother. Her husband is equally, if differently, brilliant and loves her and their daughter, but is very caught up with his work launching a new product at Microsoft. The daughter is so smart and engaged and adoring of both her parents. But Bernadette’s quirks and oddities gradually make life more difficult for herself, her family, and everyone she encounters. Things snowball, of course, but so slowly, over the course of decades, that no one notices anything is too terribly off until there is almost a literal avalanche. The book is built piecemeal, from letters and emails and transcripts, interspersed with occasional first-person narration, in a format that could so easily be terrible but instead brings everything so beautifully to life.
In my last review, of Salt Houses, I talked about how wonderfully ordinary the characters felt, like these were so easily people you could know and interact with daily. Where Are You, Bernadette has none of those–each and every one of these people is a character (though not caricature). Life in this Seattle honestly sounds a little exhausting, but damn did I enjoy my brief detour. A great curl-up-by-the-fire-and-down-half-a-bottle-of-wine read.