Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Family

By Maria Semple

Family

It's hard to get more dysfunctional than the Branch family. Mama Bernadette is stuck in a decade-long depressive funk after the failure of her architectural career. Papa Elgin is always at work. Daughter Bee is the one gem in the bunch, but even she's going to be in bad shape if her parents don't figure themselves out. Toss in an affair, a sudden disappearance, and one lovechild, and you have the recipe for one caliente family drama.

Questions About Family

  1. When does Elgin and Bernadette's marriage start going wrong? What could they have done to stop it? 
  2. Are Bernadette and Elgin good parents? Explain your answer. 
  3. Will the family stick together after the events of the novel? Why or why not? 
  4. How will the involvement of Soo-Lin and her new child affect the family? Will there be any positive effects to this change?

Chew on This

Bernadette and Elgin are good parents, because they love Bee unconditionally, which is the most important thing a parent can do.

Bernadette and Elgin are bad parents, because they frequently put their own emotional needs before those of their daughter Bee, despite their love for her.

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