Jump Start Book Club Discussion With 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette?'

Reading group discussion questions

Book cover of Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Photo from Amazon

Is your book club is looking to dig into the comic mystery of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple? This book has over-the-top humor laced with social commentary. It's a fun and quick read that brings to mind several questions, although none of them are very deep. "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" is a quick, fun read that has enough discussion for a book club but is light enough for a beach bag. It's good for anyone who wants to disappear for a little while.

If you find your book club has been reading too many books that leave you emotionally wrung out and intellectually challenged, it's a nice change of pace.

Spoiler Warning: Finish the book before reading on as characters and situations are included in the questions. If you don't want your reading experience spoiled, stop right here and come back when you are done!

Book Club Questions for "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" 

These questions will help jump-start the discussion. You can add more questions to the list as well as any insights you gained while reading.

  1. What was your favorite scene in "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?"
  2. Did you think Bernadette had died?
  3. Were you surprised by Audrey's turnaround? Was it realistic?
  4. Do you think Elgin and Bernadette can have a happy future?
  5. Are you familiar with TED Talks? What did you think of Elgin's TED Talk?
  6. Were there any cultural jabs that rang particularly true for you, especially if you have lived in Seattle or the Pacific Northwest?
  7. Did this book make you want to go to Antarctica?
  8. Do you like the over-the-top style of the book or not, and why?
  9. Do you like books that include emails and other items, and what other books does this style remind you of?
  10. Which of Bernadette's antisocial attitudes and actions do you identify with, if any?
  11. Rate "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" on a scale of 1 to 5. Give a one to two sentence explanation of your score.

Preparing for Your Book Discussion

As you read the book, bookmark pages and underline particular sections that interest you or that you found humorous. If these provoke specific insights or cause you to start musing about something, write those down.

After you finish the book, return to the bookmarks. What further questions and musings are brought to mind? Is there a character that you particularly identify with, and why? Is there a character you truly dislike and what about them incites these emotions?

Maria Semple was one of the writers of "Arrested Development," and some of the characters and events in "Where'd You Go Bernadette?" reflect the over-the-top style of the show rather than being realistic. But this style can certainly bring out a laugh.