Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot about the mother/titular figure in Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Today, it’s time to focus on the ever-important daughter: Bee.
Like her mother, Bee has a healthy heaping of sass in her personality–for instance, creating the singular word, “superbitchy” (52). As the book progresses and direct correspondence from Bernadette diminishes, we get larger and larger tastes of the character who is Bee.
As Bee is so fond of pointing out, she shares a lot of tendencies with her mother, which is pretty cool, like a “fascination with happy-angry people” (83). Isn’t happy-angry people one of the best concepts you’ve ever heard of–well of course, besides bitch goddess.
Like her mother, she has some attitude. Her tone throughout the novel is witty, sharp, and entirely delightful. For literal starters, Bee begins by complaining about her father who is cast immediately as secondary to the mother:
The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, “What’s most important is for you to understand it’s not your fault.” You’ll notice that wasn’t even the question. When I press him, he says the second most annoying thing, “The truth is complicated. There’s no way a person can ever know everything about another person.” (3)
It’s pretty clear, from start to finish, that Bee has trouble getting along well with her father. No doubt there are causes on both sides. But either way, Dad mistakenly calles Bee a “bitch” when her rightful title should be “bitch goddess” like her mother because he does not know her, just as he does not know Bernadette (258).
You almost have to feel sorry for him with his taped-over lens and desperate attitude, until you remember this whole thing started because he tried to get Mom locked up in a mental hospital. (258)
Perhaps the most compelling thing about Bee is how well she knows (and loves) her mother: “No matter what people say about Mom now, she sure knew how to make life funny” (53). And, unlike Bernadette’s husband, her daughter has a strong sense of knowledge for what made Bernadette leave.
And I don’t care what Dad or the doctors or the police or anybody says, it was Audrey Griffin screaming at Mom that made her never the same again. (89)
Even when everyone else believes Bernadette is dead, Bee stays true and believes her other is alive, and as a result is able to find her. Perhaps the most awe-worthy mother/daughter happiness moment comes near the end.
I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always  have my back. (266-67)
Because of Bee, because of Bernadette, and because of Bee and Bernadette, I gave my mom this book, and those are the very reasons that–if I have a daughter one day–I will give her this book as well. Yeah, their relationship is far from perfect, but it is perfectly imperfect in my books.
Semple, Maria. Where’d You Go, Bernadette. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Co., 2012.