Bernadette has a problem — well, actually, she has a few. She is entirely exasperated by the way the streets are laid out in Seattle. She dislikes Canadians. She's not interested in helping out at her daughter's school, which values parental involvement and "global connectitude." She can be vocal, inclined toward sharing her opinions with her adolescent daughter Bee and brilliant, patient husband. Her opinions — they are the problem. In one context, they are funny riffs; taken out of context, they can look like rants. And maybe a little insane.
As the title of Maria Semple's delightful novel "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" makes clear, Bernadette has gone missing. The story of the weeks leading to her disappearance and what happens after is told by Bee, who loves her mother, idiosyncrasies and all. Bright and endlessly curious, Bee assembles a variety of documents — emails, memos, handwritten exchanges, magazine articles, police reports — and links them with a few personal observations. It's an epistolary novel, modern style.