Where’d You Go, Bernadette Book Review and Nashville Trip

Back in September, we took a day trip to Nashville, TN for my birthday. We are only an hour north of Music City, but we don’t get down there very often. It’s a lovely place, and I always enjoy spending time there.

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Nashville sky line on the way down.

My birthday goal was to visit as many book and record stores as I could fit in one day, and I was not disappointed. We started at McKay Used Books. It’s an enormous wonderland of used books, music, movies, and more.

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It was a cloudy, cool day but great for shopping.

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The Mystery/Thriller aisle. Beautiful.

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Right side view from the elevator. Yes, elevator. It’s two glorious stories.

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Left side view of paradise from the elevator.

We spent so much time there that next up was lunch at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden, known for their burgers and handmade sodas. The burger was good, but the ginger soda was incredible.

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Picture of aforementioned ginger soda. Pure deliciousness.

From there, we headed to The Groove, a music store selling new and used vinyl, CDs, and other fun stuff. They had a section in the back of local comics which was really neat. I purchased some Belle and Sebastian which gets me closer to my goal of owning all their albums on vinyl. Love me some Belle and Sebastian.

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Next, we visited Parnassus Books which is an independent bookstore co-owned by author Ann Patchett. It was lovely inside, and you could tell it was thoughtfully curated. Just down from Parnassus in the same shopping center is Fox’s Donut Den. I didn’t snap a photo of it, but we couldn’t pass up donuts when we were THAT close. Boy, was I glad, too. They were amazing. While in Parnassus, I bought myself a hard copy of Big Magic. If you have read my review, you’ll know I loved that book, but the copy I read was from the library. It was time I had my own so I could re-read and highlight pretty much every line.

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Our next stop was one location of Rhino Books (they have two places in Nashville). This was by far my favorite place of the whole trip. I love everything about small, used bookstores. It was cozy with a super-friendly shopkeeper. It had that slightly musty, paper smell that calms my very soul and a great selection of books. I forgot to take a picture of the outside, but the inside was more important anyway. Look at those beauties.

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Pure joy.

Next up was Grimey’s New and Preloved Music. Grimey’s is a local institution and probably one of Nashville’s most well-known (and loved) independent music stores. They have a fantastic selection of music, and next door is Grimey’s Too which holds more music and also a small book store called Howlin’ Books. It was there I purchased Where’d You Go, Bernadette which I am going to review at the end of this photo-laden post. So if you’re only here for the review, keep scrolling. I promise it’s down there.

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Our final stop was The Great Escape. We have a Great Escape in Bowling Green as well, but this one is bigger, so we always like to check it out when we’re in Nashville. Plus, as a used music, movie, and comic store that purchases from people directly, you never know what you are going to find.

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My birthday was amazing, and I made some great purchases. Where’d You Go, Bernadette being one of the best. I finished it just last week and LOVED it, like “I wanted to talk about it to anyone who would listen and posted pictures on social media fishing for others who had read it so I could talk to them about it and have been recommending it non-stop to anyone who will listen to me” loved it. I had been meaning to post about our little bookish day trip and remembering I bought this book during that trip meant now was the perfect time.

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REVIEW

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Author: Maria Semple

Published: August 14, 2012

Format I Read: Paperback

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Bee is an intelligent, kind, thoughtful teenager trying to live a normal life in Seattle with her parents. Her mom, Bernadette, makes it difficult but Bee is a devoted daughter. When Bernadette goes missing, Bee is the only one determined to find out where she went and what really happened in the chain of unfortunate events leading up to her disappearance.

Thoughts: This book, you guys. It was so good. It was so, so good. I loved every part of it. The characters are engaging and well-written, and the character arcs are particularly great in this book. It’s not really a “moral of the story” type of novel, but each person does learn and grow throughout the course of the book. When we face hardships, I’d like to think we come out on the other side better or, at the very least, stronger, and this story really takes that to heart. It is an epistolary novel which is a format I enjoy. My husband doesn’t like this type of writing, but I find it a nice way to piece together a story from various points of view. The letters give you insight across all the characters, allowing you snippets into their thoughts and feelings.

Not only is this book full of heart, but it is also supremely funny. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this book. There is a sequence of unfortunate events that keep you entertained and in suspense wondering what will happen next. The letters and emails really showcase the point that one person’s story is never the whole story. Every event that is witnessed and experienced by more than one person is now subjective. The event is filtered through the lens of each person’s point of view, memories, and feelings which, intentionally or unintentionally, changes their version of the truth. I am a big fan of films or television episodes that use this trope, telling the same story from multiple points of view, and this books does it brilliantly.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is whimsical, funny, suspenseful, and serious all at the same time. Go get it. Now. It is worth every second of your reading time.

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