Around here, we believe that life is a celebration.
So we celebrate birthdays with a simple, lick-the-bowl-clean peach cobbler, and because it’s summer in San Francisco, we celebrate by donning our parkas and Uggs, trudging up the hill to the tucked-away neighborhood park where we swing on swings and slide down slides.
We celebrate summer by eating lots of heirloom tomatoes and by believing that everything can – and should – be grilled. And but for a Giants game or the occasional Real Housewives of Orange County episode, we turn the television off, and we read.
Because as any librarian would attest, summertime is made for reading.
Hence why I was so, so delighted to finally pick up Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – which I subsequently devoured in one 24-hour period.
Now here’s the deal: the book is fun. Maria Semple is a witty and funny writer, a natural noticer,* who is able to carry a somewhat complicated plot along with ease and grace through varied narration and interesting events to boot. But the clincher? Seattle.
For if you’ve spent enough time in the Northwest, you are able to understand the cultural nuances of North Face vests, and that gray doesn’t necessarily mean rain but mere drizzle (of which an umbrella is certainly not allowed); you know that there’s nothing like a sunny day in Seattle, and that swimming in Green Lake may warrant a little more than you bargained for [read, uh: human fecal matter], then this book is for you.
Take this paragraph, in a letter from Bernadette, the mother, to an old friend:
“Greetings from sunny Seattle, where women are “gals,” people are “folks,” a little bit is a “skosh,” if you’re tired you’re “logy,” if something is slightly off it’s “hinky,” you can’t sit Indian-style but you can sit “crisscross applesauce,” when the sun comes out it’s never called “sun” but always “sunshine,” boyfriends and girlfriends are “partners,” nobody swears but someone occasionally might “drop the f-bomb,” you’re allowed to cough but only into your elbow, and any request, reasonable or unreasonable, is met with “no worries” (122).
So, do not pass go, and run to your local library and pick up a copy of this gem. And then join me in celebrating summer by one of the best ways we know how – through reading!
* = natural noticer, of which Mark Twain was king.
Have you read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? What’d you think about it? What’s the best book you’ve read this summer?0