Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Memory and the Past

By Maria Semple

Memory and the Past

How can you remember your past when there's no evidence it happened? That's the predicament faced by Bernadette Fox. She was once a widely praised, MacArthur Genius Grant-winning architect, with the whole world as her oyster. Then it all disappeared in an instant. In the decade-plus that follows, Bernadette sinks into a deeper and deeper depression, unable to admit to herself how far she's fallen. It's only by going back and exploring that seemingly lost past that she's able to reconstruct her sense of self in the present day.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why does Bernadette have such a hard time letting go of her anger? Explain. 
  2. Would Bernadette feel differently if there were more records of her past work? Why or why not? 
  3. How might Bernadette put her past into perspective to better thrive in the present? 
  4. How will Bernadette's life change now that she's not hiding her past?

Chew on This

Now that Bernadette isn't hiding her past, she will become way happier, as that was the major factor holding her back.

While it's important that Bernadette isn't hiding her past anymore, it must be but a small first step if she still wants to continue making progress.

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