Remember the powerpoint chapter in Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad? The chapter that somehow nailed what it's like to be a tween-aged girl all while constrained by the restrictions of powerpoint? The format of Bernadette reminds me of that. It consists of emails, FBI reports, an emergency room bill, school notices to parents, magazine articles, and psychiatrist reports. You might think that's gimmicky, but Semple keeps it together and makes it work. The story is tight. The characters are smart, outlandish, and right on. The book is social satire (look out Seattle-ites) and absurd comedy, but at the center is the relationship between Bernadette and her daughter, Bee.
A fun, summer read.