As I reflect on the great books I've read this year, one really stands out: Where'd you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Bee is an over-schedule teen in a Seattle private school filled with parents who seem to have too, much time, show too much interest or otherwise are over-involved in school politics. Bee's dad is an up-and-comer at Microsoft, and her mom, Bernadette, is a former prodigy-turned mom-on-the-verge (of a breakdown). This book is sassy, charming, and Bernadette is totally relate-able.
At a recent holiday party, a friend told me that here favorite part of the book was actually in the reader's guide at the back (trade paperback version). It's a short piece called "Dear Mountain Room Parents" and it's hilarious! A mostly one-sided email exchange from a parent attempting to set up a Día de los Muertos altar at the school. Everyone is too PC for their own good and everything gets lost in translation:
Hola a los Padres:
El Día de los Muertos begins with a parade through the zócalo, where we toss oranges into decorated coffins. The skeletons drive us in the bus to the cemetery and we molest the spirits from under the ground with candy and traditional Mexican music. We write poems called calaveras, which laugh at the living. In Mexico, it is a rejoicing time of ofrendas, picnics, and dancing on graves.
I sincerely apologize for Adela’s e-mail...How about we process our feelings face to face?
Finally, to those parents who are offended by our Day of the Dead celebration, I’d like to point out that there are parents who are offended that you are offended.
Lucky for us, "Dear Mountain Room Parents" is available at the New Yorker website. If you haven't read it, consider this my gift to you.