A novel (as made clear by the subtitle
) by Maria Semple about a woman living in Seattle
who disappears two days before Christmas as her family is preparing to travel to Antarctica. It is mostly an Epistolary Novel
, compiled from emails, letters, and invoices sent among the main characters, with a few scenes conventionally narrated in first person by Bernadette's teenage daughter Bee.
This novel provides examples of the following:
- Adorably Precocious Child: Bee
- Bargain with Heaven: Bernadette swore to God that she would renounce her architectural visions if Bee survived, which was odd because she was an atheist.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Bernadette's neighbor Audrey wants Bernadette to clear all the blackberry bushes from the hillside that rises above Audrey's house. Bernadette does, during the rainiest winter in a very rainy city....
- Catch Phrase:
- Bernadette: "You little rotter."
- Ollie-O: "REAL-TIME ⚡ FLASH!"
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Audrey's son Kyle, who is a poor student and troublemaker at school, is a talented computer hacker.
- Embarrassing First Name: Bee's real first name is Balakrishna.
- Epistolary Novel
- Heel-Face Turn: Audrey Griffin decides she's gone too far when she learns that Bernadette is about to be committed, in part thanks to her lies. She then helps Bernadette escape.
- Helicopter Parents: To spades. Averted only by Bee's friend Kennedy's mom.
- Hollywood Mid Life Crisis: Soo-Lin
- Ill Girl: Subverted; everyone thinks of Bee as a sickly child because of her premature birth and heart condition as a baby, and its mild lingering effects, but she and her cardiologist think she's perfectly healthy.
- Large Ham: Ollie-O
- Missing Mom: Kind of a Foregone Conclusion
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. One of the "epistles" in the book was a blog entry by Cliff Mass, a weatherman that Bee and Bernadette like. Cliff Mass is, in fact, an actual weatherman in Seattle with a blog.
- Old Dark House: Bernadette and family live in one. It was formerly a school for delinquent girls, who were forced to have abortions.
- Reference Overdosed: The novel is loaded with commercial and technological references to things considered trendy in the 2010 timeframe.
- Retired Badass: Bernadette is considered one of the world's most influential architects, but she withdrew to Seattle when her masterpiece home in Los Angeles was demolished.
- Take That: Bernadette's emails absolutely skewer Seattle
- Theme Naming: Several children are named after U.S. Presidents; this is most likely the Author mocking Seattle parents.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Soo-Lin is in a member of a support group, which she details hilariously in her letters to Aubrey.