Where'd You Go Bernadette

By: Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox and Her Family.

This novel takes place in Seattle, Washington where Bernadette Fox and her husband Elgin Branch live. Together they have their one and only child, Bee Branch who is 15. When Bee was born, she was born with a heart defect that caused her to have many surgeries as a little baby. Bee now attends Galer Street, a private school and is graduating from the ninth grade very soon. Mr. Branch is a team leader at Microsoft, and is constantly working. Through out the novel you will see how distant Mr. Branch is from his family because he is always working. Bernadette Fox is a retired architect. Before Bernadette and Elgin moved to Seattle, Bernadette was a famous architect and even won awards for her amazing work. Now Bernadette likes to keep to herself and doesn't like to socialize. Mrs. Fox is referred to as the "bad" mom by all the other moms at Galer Street school because she does not attend student parent meetings, or help around the school. Mrs. Fox calls the other parents "gnats" because they are constantly bothering her about everything and anything whenever they see her. Now that Bee is graduating from ninth grade, the last grade in Galer Street, Bee asks to go on a family trip to Antarctica as her graduation present. Bee will then be attending Choate, a boarding school that her mother also went too and that she's been wanting to go to since she was younger.

The Galer Street Gnats.

In the novel Mrs. Fox's biggest enemy is Audrey Griffin. Audrey Griffin is Bernadette's neighbor who also has a child in Bee's grade. Ever since Bernadette and her family moved to Seattle their neighbors have dispised them and never liked them because they're the type of parents who drop of their kids on the outside of the school while all the other parents walk their children into the school. Little things like that, are what Mrs. Griffin would pick out. Also Mrs. Griffin was always the mom to volunteer to help out with student parent meetings and many other things. Also including holding a meeting at her house to help attract new students and families to the school. Since Mrs. Griffin and Mrs. Fox are neighbors, but Mrs. Fox lives on the top of the hill her backyard is also Mrs. Griffins yard. They had a big problem with blackberry bushes that where growing from Mrs. Fox's backyard but traveling down the hill into Mrs. Griffins backyard. Since Mrs. Griffin was holding a parent student meeting at her house she wanted those blackberry bushes taken out immediately. Before even telling Bernadette, she snuck into their backyard with a terminator to take down measurements. When Mrs. Fox came home to find Mrs. Griffin and a random man in her backyard she was beyond upset and got a big sign made that said: "Private Property. No Trespassing. Galer Street Gnats Will Be Arrested And Hauled Off to Gnat Jail." A few days later, Mrs. Griffin was holding the meeting at her house and while the kids and parents where there, all of a sudden Mrs. Fox's backyard was sliding into the side of Mrs. Griffins house due to heavy rainfall a couple days before. Mud was everywhere, windows where broken, and all the kids and parents where covered in mud. Then as the mudslide started to slow down, the sign Mrs. Fox had just made came sliding down right in front of Mrs. Griffins house for everyone too see. She was in so much shock, she couldn't believe what she was reading. Out of furiousness Mrs. Griffin got into her car and drove right to Mrs. Fox's house. Just as she was getting out of her car, Mrs. Fox and Bee pulled up. Mrs. Griffin and Mrs. Fox yelled back and forth until they both got so upset and just walked away from each other.
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Are You Okay Bernadette?

Mrs. Fox is beyond upset and just wants to get away. She starts to become very upset with everything and anything and she and her husband begin to argue a lot, especially over this trip to Antarctica. While Mr. Branch is at work he meets this new assistant named Soo-Lin. Soo-Lin is a good friend of Mrs. Griffin who at first tries to use Soo-Lin too get the details about Bernadette and her family. Also she tries to make Soo-Lin hate her boss, meanwhile Soo-Lin is starting get more then just feelings for Mr. Branch. Mr. Branch starts to open up to Soo-Lin about his wife and how he is worried that there might be something wrong with her and that she is acting weird. Mr. Branch suggests that she see a psychiatrist and maybe attend Madrona Hill, an institute to help people. Mr. Branch arranges an intervention type thing at his house and when Mrs. Fox comes home to find a doctor and his husband and her husbands assistant, she refuses to sit there and runs to her room. Mr. Branch then follows her to her room and by the time he gets there she is gone.

I Will Find You Mom.

Bee Branch their daughter is already attending Choate Boarding School when she receives the news that her mom has gone missing. Her father immediately goes to get her. Mr. Branch has set his bank account to notify him whenever his credit or debit card is used. The first sign of activity was Mrs. Fox purchasing the Antarctica cruise trip and then a flight down to Ushuaia, Argentina where the cruise ship is departing from. Mr. Branch and Bee wait a few weeks hoping that Mrs. Fox will return, while Bee is very worried and constantly asking her father about her mom, Mr. Branch shows barely any interest and starts seeing his assistant Soo-Lin a lot more. Bee starts to realize what happens and begins to hate her father each day because he is starting to forget about his own wife being in Antarctica all alone. Mr. Branch then realizes what he is doing and how he is ignoring Bee apologizes to her. The next day they fly to Ushuaia where they will board the next cruise ship to Antarctica. Before they board the cruise ship they ask around and request to talk to the captain of the Allegra, which is the cruise ship Mrs. Fox was aboard. He prints out a report that shows every time Mrs. Fox got on and off the ship. They request to search the ship that she was aboard but they cant find her. They even searched her room that she stayed in where they found a little note pad with the first page missing but the indentation was on the second, which they sent off to a laboratory. Later Mr. Branch finds out that they could only make out some of the letter which said, "Audery Griffin is the devil. Audery Griffin is an angel. Romeo Romeo. I am a Christian. Audery knows." Due to the captains report of Mrs. Fox's activity on the boat, all the crews men and even the captain believe that maybe one night after Mrs. Fox was out drinking she went out on the deck while it was rough and may have fell overboard. For some reason, Mr. Branch finds it somewhat a possible situation while Bee reuses to even think for a second that that is true. Bee knows her mom better than anyone else. Mrs. Fox wasn't just a mom to Bee, she was her best friend. Bee is determined to find her mom and does everything and anything to do it. She uses the captains report and visits everywhere her mom has trying to find clues. She asks around the ship crew and even the workers in the gift shop that her mom spent over $300 in. Many days go by on this cruise to Antarctica and Bee becomes very seasick to the point where she barely wants to move out of her bedroom. Mr. Branch continues to go out everyday and night not even worrying about Bee and totally forgetting the reason why they even took this trip. Bee gets very upset with her father to the point where she won't even speak to him. It is only when Bee and her father get the same idea, that Mrs. Fox isn't dead, she's just hiding.

To find out what really happened to Mrs. Fox, you're going to have to read it.

My Review.

Olivia Schneider

Period 4

To be honest this is one of the only books that I have actually read all the way through, and I some what enjoyed it. The mystery behind the whole story kept me reading it and I liked that. I also liked that the author chose such a weird location for the vacation Bee wanted to take and that Bee and her mom where so close and no one knew them better then each other. Also the conflict in the book with Mr. Branch having an affair with his assistant gave it a little hint of suspense. The only thing I didn't like about the book that it was set up in all letters, or emails, or faxes and at times it was hard to keep track of who is who, but in the end you figure it out. Overall I think the book was good and recommend that other people read it. I think throughout the book there are many different examples of irony and situational irony, where you have no clue what is going to happen but that's what keeps you reading the book.
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