Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

By: Maria Semple

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Bee Branch

Balakrishna (Bee) Branch is the protagonist of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?. The story follows her in her efforts to track down her mother, Bernadette, after she disappears from their own home. Bee is a 15 year old girl, who is extremely smart and advanced for her age. Bee was born with a heart defect and as a result was born very small. As she got older, she grew but stayed relatively small compared to her classmates. Although she was small, that never stopped her from anything. For example, even though her birth defect came with multiple breathing problems, she still mastered the flute and played all the time.


Her birth defect was not the only obstacle Bee had to overcome. Bee was faced with the biggest challenge of her life when her mother disappeared. Bee was initially confused because her mom is her best friend. However, Bee is strong and smart so she believed her mother would be contacting her some how. When she didn't receive information, she decided to take matters into her own hands and look for her. After clues revealed that her mother had taken an earlier planned cruise to Antartica, Bee conned her father into following taking a cruise down there too. She made him believe that taking the cruise would allow her to have closure of her mother's disappearance, when she only wanted to search harder. Using her great understanding skills and tremendous knowledge, she followed every hint and clue she could to find her mother. Displaying her optimistic personality, she never once believed in her mother's death as part of her disappearance. This greatly advertised her persistence. Due to her character traits, Bee eventually found her mother and realized how right she was about her mom the whole time.

Setting

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? was set in Seattle during modern times. The setting of this book is very important because it helps portrays the description of the people and sights around the main characters. It also sets the tone of the minor characters in the novel.


For an example of how it affected the main characters, Bernadette rarely ever left her house and when she did, it was in sunglasses and a scarve to hide face. This was because she despised the people around her, especially the mothers, whom she referred to as "gnats". She believed they were so annoying to a point that people stopped caring about them and acted as if they weren't there. This is indirect characterization of the minor characters. Bernadette's description of the people of Seattle shows how they are very judgemental and opinionated. This affected the way Bernadette acted and later affected the actions of other characters.

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Characterization

Bernadette Fox is one of the main characters in Where'd You Go, Bernadette?. Bernadette is important to the plot because her actions affect the story line. The characterization of Bernadette Fox allows readers to understand her decisions and the plot more easily.


Bernadette Fox is characterized as an unsociable mother of one. She is married to Elgin Branch, a worker for Microsoft who has a great salary. Fox was an architect who recylced resources around her to make her projects. She was very successful but after a horrible incident she moved from California to Seattle and stopped working. After moving, she hated everyone in the new city. The mothers were all very cliquey and seclusive. The forced Bernadette to avoid all of the mothers from her daughter's school and stick to herself. This caused many problems including one with her next door neighbor. They had a blow out which lead to an arguement between Elgin and Bernadette. This later resulted in the intervention at which Bernadette ran out and disappeared. Furthermore, Fox's self-containment aroused many issues for her and her family, so many that she was forced to reside in Antartica by herself.

Critique

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is a good novel. I would recommend this book to pre-teen or teenage girls. This book is good because of the different ways it is written. Depending on where you are in the book, you can be reading emails, FBI files, notes, or the protagonists words. This allows for full insight into multiple characters' feelings and decisions. Also, this book is a form of comedy. Semple writes it with a comedic twist that allows for laughter during times of stress or confusion. This way of writing keeps readers attached and brightened up. This also provides a reason to keep reading, along with the suspense in Bee's adventure of finding her mother. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a mystery that is solved by a young, intelligent girl, strongly successful due to her will and determination.