Set in a rainy city, this is only the second novel by Maria Semple, who herself escaped California to live in Seattle. She is the former writer of Mad About You tv show, which I used to love oh so much. After Bee announces that her promised reward for getting good grades will be a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette's agoraphobia intensifies. She already hates people, and being around strangers, not to mention other moms from Bee's school, she has to face being stuck on a boat with people, without an escape. She starts to act odd, even more then she usually does, and the drama between her and some other moms at the school gets a little out of hand when she accidentally destroys property. She hates this city, she hates the people that live here that hate the city, she hates being involved in school activities, even though she is a say at home mom, she claims to not have free time. She doesn't want to talk to anyone, she doesn't even make her own restaurant reservations, or buys groceries, she has service from India for that. Bernadette has issues, big ones, and most of them started when she was an architect a long time ago.
This book is written in epistolary form, ranging from letters to text messages. This is the way Bee, Bernadettes daughter tries to find out what happened to her mom, why she disappeared and where she is. It's supposed to be told from Bee's point of view, but since it is written in letters we get to hear everyones side. And that's not a bad thing. With Bee explaining in between the documents, this makes it easier to follow so many characters and ties everything together. Semple did a great job giving a voice to so many different characters and personalities. It was written well and some of the characters were likable it was even a little funny, but it lacked a big dramatic climax. After Bernadette disappears we only get to see Bee's side of the story and that's when it looses that spark. It was nice to see the characters from different perspectives, I enjoyed reading about the drama and the gossip but when that changed I felt like it got weaker and didn't move along as quickly anymore.
I personally didn't like this book too much, I thought I would, at first I did, I liked the drama, kind of reminded me of Desperate Housewives, but then quickly lost it's spark. The climax, if there even was one, was not that interesting. Since this book is about a middle aged woman who is going through some kind of midlife crisis I couldn't really relate to it, I'm not middle ages nor do I have any crisis. I'm am stuck in the in-between stage, too old for YA and too young for woman's fiction.
I would recommend this book to an older crowd, preferably in their 40's.