I’d had this book on my kindle for ages and when Char mentioned it and said her friend who never says anything is delightful, described it as exactly that,I thought I have to give this a go.
The story is set in Seattle and is basically about the disappearance of Bernadette, if you hadn’t already guessed that by the title. At the start we meet Bernadette’s daughter Bee who narrates parts of the story, while the rest is a collection of e-mail’s and notes. I loved this style of narrative, it made the story more unique and fun.
Bernadette, the protagonist, felt so real. She was flawed and a bit of an ass at times who did some really stupid things, but I could forgive all that because she was so damn funny. It was this humour that was one of the main reasons I kept reading, even when she drove me mad!
There were several side characters who helped make this even more fun, such as Audrey (the arch nemesis of Bernadette), Soo-lin who had a crush on Bernadette's husband and Ollie O who worked at Bee’s school.
Regardless of the humour the story still managed to touch on themes such as anxiety and mother-daughter relationships. The book felt light, but underneath it had an importance that means it'll stay with me far longer than it would have.
I did have to suspend my disbelief a few times, but strangely this didn’t detract from my enjoyment as it usually would. For me, some of the more ludicrous events seemed to add to the story. Don’t ask me how that happened! I can only assume it’s the strength of the author.
It is 100% completely unfair to compare this book with Semple's previous novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette -- but, man -- it's hard not to. The protagonists, their lifestyles, their problems, their families, their children's schools, their problems, what got them to Seattle and the career's they left behind -- they all beg comparison. But I'm going to try not to -- and it'll be to Today's benefit if I can pull that off.
Here's the problem with the book -- well, the main one -- it's there in the title, Today. It takes place over a day, no real change, no real resolution, no real anything can happen in a day. You can resolve to make changes, you can take steps towards anything happening. But real lasting whatever takes time. Not that you can't have a good novel in that time frame, but not this kind of novel.
The pluses? The storyline about Eleanor's sister -- there were so many ways this could've gone wrong, become cliché, or turned into a mere punchline. It's uncomfortable, it's troubling, and it's real. Eleanor's kid, Timby was interesting and I enjoyed his relationship with her ex-colleague. Most of all, it's the voice. Eleanor's voice is strong, it's developed, it's clear, and there's a confidence to her (while realizing she's a giant mess).
But that ending? I could write pages about how bad it was. In the end, while reading Today Will be Different, I had a blast and was hooked throughout -- it was funny, tragic, thoughtful, painful. But the instant that I closed the book, all I could think of was how many things I didn't like and problems I had with the story. It's not just because Eleanor's story was different from Bernadette's -- I was relieved, by that -- but that this one didn't deliver what it could have.