Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Club: Where'd You Go Bernadette, Parts Five-Seven

Here are the FINAL QUESTIONS for our Book Club! [Can you believe it came & went so fast?] SPOILER ALERTS BELOW, & questions in the comments! ALSO... stay tuned since we'll be having a Twitter Chat about the book soon. :)

1. Did you think Bernadette had died? Were you hopeful that they'd find her, or did you think Bee was heading down the same erratic, obsessive path as her mother?

2. The book is about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to this? Do you feel that her situation was unique, or did it accurately represent women who "disappear" into motherhood and marriage?

3. The trip was the cause of meltdowns for Bernadette, but ended up being exactly what she needed. How do the other characters experience their own breakthroughs?

4. The book ends somewhat open-ended. What do you foresee happening in the future between this family, specifically- Bernadette & Elgie?

5. Were you satisfied with the ending?


  1. 1. As I mentioned last week, I thought of it as a supernatural disappearance. However, as the story kept moving forward with NO indication of other-world interference (ha!), I did begin to believe that she had killed herself. I was really hopeful that they'd find her simply for the story's sake (I thought it would be a cop out if she killed herself). I also did start to see Bee get that obsessive quality, which was super stressful. I could see her slipping into a depression, and based on her mother's history-- that could be a lifetime condition.

    2. I actually related this story to another book, Eat Pray Love. In that, the main character totally immerses herself in whatever relationship she is in. I don't think Bernadette did that with Elgie, but more so with Bee. She really loved her daughter so much, and had gone through so much professionally, that she just focused her entire life on Bee. I think it's really common, and unless you make a commitment to YOURSELF... many women will fall victim to the same thing. (Though, not quite as much as Bernadette.)

    3. I think that Bee's breakthrough occurs throughout piecing the book together. She was able to see all sides of her mother & truly understand her through and through. Elgie's comes when he watches Bee's determination. I think at first, he went on the cruise to satisfy Bee. But, as time went on and Bee's determination only grew stronger, he started to gain hope as well.

    4. I am SO interested to find out what happened to their family once Bernadette returned. I think that, especially since she was "okay" with the whole Soo-Lin thing, Bernadette & Elgie would sort of be jetted back to the moment they met. He is starting over with work and Bernadette has a passion again. I like to think that they really revived their relationship and family. I also am curious about what happened when they moved out of that crazy house. I guess I'd love a sequel... but it likely wouldn't be very interesting because it seems like everyone returned to a normal existence.

    5. I was definitely satisified-- but as I mentioned in answer 4, I sort of wish that we could see a little bit further into the future. :)

    What did you think??

    1. Kelli, I was kind of worried when you mentioned supernatural possibilities in the previous discussion, so I was bracing myself during the Xmas show scene with everyone singing and Bee getting in the zone. LOL! I just couldn't imagine Bernadette killing herself, it would have made the whole build up of the whole story so disappointing. Am glad it was not the case! I agree depression certainly is a lifetime battle. Either having it or a parent who does, I would imagine.

      I soooo have thought of Eat Pray Love too lately, in the way a woman can be completely lost in the life she'd chosen for herself, and unable to breathe, even though that life is still a very good one. You are so right, we have to make commitments to ourselves and let our gifts and hearts sing. The world is better for it.

      I wouldn't have had the strength as Bee at that age to piece all of that together. It was so much, but Bee has the kind of curiosity and mind that feeds off of detail and reason. All of the characters did come around in their own ways. Just removing all of the anger and out of touch layers of themselves, or of the realities they created around themselves, is what helped them see their own paths towards growth.

      I hope there is a part 2. I would love to see what happens for them all next. I don't expect it to be easy, but I do expect it to be INTERESTING.

      It was fine because at least Bernadette got back to who she is, and when she accepted herself, she could start accepting the life around her instead of picking at everything that is wrong. Like in real life, you can really be happier and less aggressive in the world when you are at peace with yourself.... not perfect, but just true and accepting of how you are and living the life you have in the way only you can.

  2. 1. I simply thought Bernadette found a secret passageway from the old reform school layout, one that she'd known about and perhaps maintained? I had imagined that there was a whole network of underground trails ala the White House and perhaps she escaped through a panel. I never thought she died. Bee was not falling into the trap of her mom, though, let's face it, she also was a bit obsessive about her interests and the particulars around them (Beatles, Antarctica). If any child lost her mother in that way, he or she would equally go pretty mad, especially if they are as close as Bernadette and Bee.

    2. I can see that. I am certain that all women disappear from themselves at some point. Be it under the pressure of career, expectations of family, or role playing a life they think they wanted but realized it is no longer who they are. Especially someone like Bernadette who has the huge capacity to create and interact with life and exist in this big artistic way. It is true, if she didn't create, she'd be a menace. Same with all of us! Especially the women who put their entire selves aside for something else. We can't exactly have it all but we needn't forsake it all either.

    3. I think Elgie's breakthrough also happened during the cruise while he experienced leisure again in his own way. Bee's was through her diligence in tracing her mom's steps. Her mind was challenged to work in the way it best does for her: complex problem solving, cartography (a bit), history. Without her ability to apply those she wouldn't have figured it out with her dad. The writing of her book could have gone deeper. I would have enjoyed knowing how she was tying it together and what her thought process was. Soo Lin's had to (and will always) have to be through group therapy. She really can't think for herself and she needs constant support and guidance - luckily the tough love type of guidance they provided her with. WAKE UP, Soo Lin! Audrey's was when they had to get out of the state and just be without everything around them. Audrey turning over a new leaf after reading those documents and her contribution to the drama was a bit too "easy" I thought, but hey, I am always happy when people have a change of heart in a story and become pro active about making amends.

    4. I don't see Bernadette and Elige getting back together per se. I see them moving home to Seattle but living separately while sharing the raising of Bee. Then again, Bernadette is maybe going to be more open minded and forgiving. Her dismay in Elgie is nothing any other wife would feel towards her distance husband who tried to have her committed I guess (wow, did I just type that?). I suppose she'd take Elgie back. But how to deal with Soo Lin and the baby? I really really can't see that having a happy ending. I am glad Bee went back home and am hoping since she has no unresolved issues she will thrive as a young woman. As for Elgie... well... what can you do with the Soo Lin situation. It's the best he could offer her and I think if he were to start a new job anyway he'll keep more room in his life for everyone who needs him.

    5. Were you satisfied with the ending? I guess if it were a movie, I would have been more satisfied with that ending scene, but I had too many questions! Was hoping for maybe two more pages??? I am happy with the way the Branch parents had their separate talks with Bee sans any airs. I thought giving Bernadette a new purposeful passion in that way was exciting, unconventional and very Bernadette. With that I was satisfied.

  3. I totally knew they were going to find Bernadette. She's too clever to have fallen overboard. I think the ending set us up for an exciting sequel!

  4. 1. I was hopeful that she wasn't dead, that's for sure. I wanted them to find her, and for her to understand the burden she put on her family by doing what she did. I think Bee needed her to return and understand that while her mom was free to find herself, she wasn't alone and that Bee was searching for her all along as well. I think a theme here for a lot of the characters is that even if you don't see instantly what any consequences are, they are still there and affecting someone.

    2. I think the story is unique and not really realistic with the south pole adventure, but that's not a bad thing. However, I felt the theme of the story represented so many different people being lost in their worlds, lost independently yet together, being oblivious to those around them, their own true needs and wants. How it's easy to let the day to day life and circumstance cloud your views of what is important (and that is something I can relate to!).

    3. I liked that each character had a sort of light blub moment - when they sort of snapped and came to, and then took on a change of direction. Elgie taking Bee to find her mom, even though they were fighting, and getting to have the space from work that he needed to reconnect. Bee finding out all the details of what was really going on, putting all the puzzle pieces together was her moment, and that lead to holding on to hope. They got to work on being father and daughter, while on this crazy adventure. Without that trip, I don't know that they'd have as strong a bond going forward.

    4. The book ends somewhat open-ended. What do you foresee happening in the future between this family, specifically- Bernadette & Elgie? That was one big question I had; how the heck will she react when she finds out her hubby is paying for his preggo assistants house/kids/life?? Talk about a curve ball that leaves room for a sequel for sure, and left me with a lot of questions.

    5. Ultimately, yes! I read this book all in one sitting, because I genuinely liked it and couldn't put it down. I feel like it was a good book since I did want to know what happened next even after it ended. I would happily read a follow up, or anything else by the author as well!

    Thanks Kelli for such a good read & fun time with these recaps as well!


Thank you for reading! xoKelli