THE BLOG
10/07/2013 09:12 am ET | Updated Dec 07, 2013

52 Books in 52 Weeks, Weeks 39-40: The Computer Ate My Homework

As you might be able to tell from the title of this post, I wrote my post on last week's 52 books in 52 weeks' read (John Green's excellent Looking for Alaska), I really did. Only, then my internet connection died and I had not saved a draft and the blog post was lost before I could, um, post it. I know I'm not selling this story well, but it's the truth. And once the post was lost -- and since, hey, it's not like I have a boss for these posts, except, well, myself -- I decided to give myself the week off. Aren't I nice to myself?

(Hold on sec, I'm saving.)

Okay, so long and short of last week's post: while Looking for Alaska may not be as amazing as The Fault in Our Stars, it's still awesome and you should read it.

Which brings us to Week 40's read: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. The book is about fifteen-year-old Bee, a precocious child of two geniuses (her father invents cool technology for Microsoft; her mother is an award-winning architect), and her search for her mother when she goes missing after a series of unfortunate events.

We know Bee's mother is missing from the beginning and that Bee is looking for her. At Bee's disposal are a long string of emails, notes and invoices that detail her mother's last months with her family. The mystery of the book is how Bee comes into possession of such things and, of course, where Bernadette went.

(Hold up. Saving again. Mmm. This save function is kind of slow.)

There is much to like in this book. Bee is charming, her mother, Bernadette, is off-kilter but funny, her dad might be a bit stodgy (he does work at Microsoft, after all) but he clearly cares for his family. I also found the use of emails, notes etc. to be clever: it is this detritus that we behind nowadays, the best clues to our thoughts and movements. In short, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

What it did leave me wondering though -- as I have several times recently -- why this book is considered adult literature and something like Looking for Alaska is considered YA. Both have a teenager as their main protagonist. Both are about people looking for lost love ones. The only real difference, to me, is that the lost loved one in John Green's book is another teenager, and in Semple's book it's an adult. There is no difference in the quality of the writing or the complexity of the story, and to the extent that this qualifies you, or not, for being "literature," Where'd You Go, Bernadette certainly has a happier ending than Looking for Alaska.

That being said, I just noticed that Where'd You Go, Bernadette was nominated for an Alex Award, which are are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. I wonder if a corollary award exists (books written for teens that also appeal to adults). If not, there really should.

And so on to week 41: Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue.

Read on. (and ... saved.)