A Cozy Book for the Holidays
Long breaks from work and school are the perfect time to squeeze in some reading. But what to choose?
The winter breaks make me want something cozy, something I can snuggle with under a warm blanket. And these breaks, for me, mean holidays, so I tend to want something a little lighter that will preserve my festive mood.
As much as I hate to admit it, I like shorter books for these occasions. I know I’m going to be picking the book up and putting it down between conversations, toddler games, and multiple slices of pie. I need a perfect little piece of writing that I can set down easily, but easily come back to between activities.
So I’m looking for the Chupacabra of books, right? Wrong! The cozy, hilarious, creatively written book that you can read with your teenager or elderly aunt exists! Get yourself a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple.
Bee idolizes her mother, Bernadette. Bernadette is a creative, free-spirited woman with strong opinions about nearly everything: fellow mothers at Bee’s school (gnats), traffic patterns in Seattle (idiotic), the Microsoft facility where her husband works (The Compound). She’s generally so annoyed by the world around her that she prefers to keep to herself.
But she’s Bee’s best friend and greatest champion. And so when Bee accomplishes a major goal and claims her reward (a trip to Antarctica), Bernadette agrees to go, despite all of her (totally hilarious) reservations about going so far with so many other people.
As the plans become more and more complicated, the entire trip lies in peril. Will Bernadette follow through with the trip? Will their lives unravel before they can leave? What humorous antics will Bernadette get up to next?
Why It’s the Perfect Long-Weekend Novel
Between the story’s Seattle rain and frigid Antarctic breeze, you’ll be reaching for a blanket and a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
And the book is hilarious!
It’s rare to encounter a book that imparts meaning and wisdom, yet does so with such honest humor. It’s a book in which you laugh because you can relate to the story—you’ve found yourself in a similarly awkward, odd, or ridiculous situation, and Bernadette’s sarcastic take makes it comical in retrospect.
The format is one of the most distinctive and fun parts of the novel, and it makes it such a quick read. It’s a modified epistolary novel—a collection of emails, notes, memos, etc.—gathered by Bee as evidence of Bernadette’s life. This makes the novel incredibly easy to set down, because there’s a break on nearly every page.
Here’s the icing on the cake. Once you read and love this book, you’ll be able to recommend it to almost everyone you know, including the teens in your life. Where’d You Go, Bernadette won the Alex Award in 2013, which the Young Adult Library Services Association gives to a collection of adult books that would work well for teens. Other than some occasional strong language from Bernadette’s mouth (which teens have surely heard in the hallways at school), this is a funny, light-hearted story that almost anyone can enjoy.
Grab this book and get ready for the most pleasant school break you’ve had in a long time!
Reading Levels: Lexile = HL820L, AR = 5.4
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Awards: Alex Award 2013
Bethany Bratney (@nhslibrarylady) is a National Board Certified School Librarian at Novi High School and is the recent recipient of the 2015 School Librarian of the Year Award. She reviews YA materials for School Library Connection magazine and for the LIBRES review group. She is an active member of the Oakland Schools Library Media Leadership Consortium as well as the Michigan Association of Media in Education. She received her BA in English from Michigan State University and her Masters of Library & Information Science from Wayne State University.