Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Little, Brown • $25.99 • ISBN 9780316204279
on sale August 14, 2012

Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette may just be the most unique and hilarious book I've read all year. It's a sendup of the culture of Microsoft and Seattle private schools. An epistolary novel that includes emails, faxes, police reports and even a TED talk. A surprisingly poignant story of a family's love.

A former TV writer, Semple partially based the novel on her own experience of moving from Los Angeles to Seattle, she explains in an interview in BookPage. At first, she didn't like the city. (She likes it now.) Neither does her main character Bernadette, an agoraphobic architect who makes the same move, never to design again, after a terrible accident at the beginning of her high-profile career. In Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Bernadette disappears after a disastrous school fundraiser and before a planned family trip to Antarctica. Her resourceful daughter Bee will do anything to figure out where she's gone.

Here's a section in Bernadette's voice. Are you hooked yet? You can start reading more on Tuesday, when the novel goes on sale.

As much as I try not to engage people in the grocery checkout, I couldn't resist one day when I overheard one refer to Seattle as "cosmopolitan." Encouraged, I asked, "Really?" She said, Sure, Seattle is full of people from all over. "Like where?" Her answer, "Alasksa. I have a ton of friends from Alaska." Whoomp, there it is.

Let's play a game. I'll say a word, and you say the first word that pops into your head. Ready?

ME: Seattle.
YOU: Rain.

What you've heard about the rain: it's all true. So you'd think it would become part of the fabric, especially among the lifers. But every time it rains, and you have to interact with someone, here's what they'll say: "Can you believe the weather?" And you want to say, "Actually, I can believe the weather. What I can't believe is that I'm actually having a conversation about the weather." But I don't say that, you see, because that would be instigating a fight, something I try my best to avoid, with mixed results.

Getting into fights with people makes my heart race. Not getting into fights with people makes my heart race. Even sleeping makes my heart race!

What are you reading today?

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