This book was pure fun.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
I am a judger for sure, so this is a book I've heard about for months and put off based on the somewhat childish cover and weird, unsophisticated title. As is often the case, my judginess was misguided; this book is fantastic. Here is your summary:
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
If I have to be critical of anything, I'd say that I preferred the first half of the book, or pre-Bernadette's disappearance, to the second half, where she is missing, probably because Bernadette's voice is so absurdly unique, interesting, and truly hilarious that I miss her narration. That's the real value to this novel, the incredible yet concise character development. Add in the unconventional organization of the book, which consists of personal correspondence, character monologues, receipts, and other unusual sources, and you can't put it down. I read that this was "compulsively readable", which is an excellent description.
We were all surprised when, upon finishing the book, the author's "about me" page included her full-time job as a writer for Arrested Development, which explains why she's a comic genius. Read this!