Bee Season

Bee Season

3.3 67
by Myla Goldberg
     
 

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Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession,

Overview

Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam's secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

Myla Goldberg's keen eye for detail brings Eliza's journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza's small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt.

Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, Bee Season marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented new writer.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

barnesandnoble.com
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Does adolescent insecurity, Jewish mysticism, the Hare Krishnas, and obsessive-compulsive disorder seem like a lot to pack into a first novel? Myla Goldberg tackles all that and more in a seamless, compelling narrative in Bee Season. Not bees as in honey, but bees as in S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G. The kind you either dreaded or loved as a child.

When 9-year-old Eliza Naumann finds out she has an unusual talent for spelling, she is utterly confounded. The long-time disappointment in her highly intelligent family, Eliza has grown accustomed to her role as under-performer. Her father Saul spends his evenings immersed in Jewish mystical studies; her mother Miriam, a successful lawyer and compulsive housekeeper, maintains a safe emotional distance from her family; and her brother Aaron usurps what little time Saul has to offer in the form of spiritual instruction in his father's hallowed study.

Initially very much alone in this quirky family, Eliza becomes the center of attention when she wins the regional spelling bee and goes on to face the nationals. Her father quickly jettisons Aaron's spiritual education in favor of training Eliza to win, and her mother spends more and more time at the office. Left to his own devices, Aaron is drawn into an eastern religious cult (the Hare Krishnas) and begins to lie about his whereabouts while Miriam's life begins to spin out of her careful control.

With impeccable imagery, Goldberg's extraordinary skill brings the trials of children's competition in the classroom, onstage, and within one's own family to brilliant, blinding light and details the unraveling of one family in just a few, untended months. (Spring 2000 Selection)

Bee Season 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first sentence was all it took for me to fall in love with Myla Goldberg's debut novel. Her writing is so delicately made that it is an art form in itself. It is gorgeous, as is the story it tells, one of hope, and loss, and the love of a family that has quite frankly fallen apart and trying to stitch it all back together.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The diction in this book is advanced, but i enjoyed learning so many new words. The author has great skill in handling words and creating analogies and metaphors that remain lodged in one's mind long after one has put the book down. The ending was confusing for me... i'm not sure if i understand it, which bugs me very much because i enjoyed reading everything that led up to the ending so much. This book portrays the desperate need an adolescent has for meaning in life, for something to hold onto when one's parents aren't around to be that something solid to cling to. overall, i enjoyed reading it because i like the Author's way with words, and there were some interesting themes. However, im definately confused by the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book could not have been a bigger disappointment. I regret not reading the reader reviews prior to purchasing the book- I would have saved myself time and money. As the other reviewers have noted, the writer has an incredible ability with words, however, the story was unrealistic and painful to read (in that it was difficult to fully get into the story). Moreover, it seemed that there was little 'story' and more description. For example, it would take a page to describe one simple object (of course, I exaggerate, but you get the idea). I, literally, had to force myself to finish the book. If you are consisdering purchasing this book, please reconsider. There are more enjoyable books on the market!
laurasgrandpa More than 1 year ago
There are many books that delighted me, saddened me, angered me, or frightened me. But this is the first book that rattled me; that moved me so profoundly. I still don't fully understand my own reaction, but it's very real. Immediately after reading a borrowed copy of Bee Season, I bought four more copies to share with friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are spelling bees for nerds that have no lofe and are forever alone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What are you saying you sound like oprah
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The author's observations are at times clever and humorous, but for me, the story was tragically dark. The characters were so deeply troubled and flawed that I couldn't relate to them or their depressing circumstances. If this book were a color it would be dark gray. If you are looking for something that is up beat, entertaining or has redeeming features, this is not it.
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Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
This book was an odd little novel, one I was not expecting. This is about Eliza Naumann, a normal girl who family has resigned themselves to her ordinariness. This all changes when Eliza surprisingly wins her school spelling bee, opening doors to herself that she never even knew existed. Eliza's family is strongly impacted by this sudden change. Her father, Saul, is a Jewish scholar, and is determined that his daughter use her abilities to the best advantage possible, resorting to the old leather tomes in his study for guidance. Her brother, Aaron, is thrown off by this sudden change of his father's affection, exploring any way to be closer to God. Her mother, Miriam, is not what she appears, and this sudden change in the family dynamic brings her secrets to light. All this happens because of one girl's ability to spell. This book has a whole lot shoved in it. Jewish mysticism, Hare Krishnas, kleptomania, obsessive compulsion, complicated families, and spelling bees. It really is like nothing I've ever read before. It was more complex than I was expecting, and I read it slowly in order to soak it all in. The characters and all their actions wer well-developed and intricate. I just really enjoyed the journey it took me on. And, as an added bounes, my vocabulary has been hereby expanded. I can see how it's not for everyone, and I don't exactly recommend it. This is a book people have to stumble on for themselves. My only complaint was the ending, which I felt was a little unclear.
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While I found Bee Season engrossing and interesting I found it disturbing with an unsatisfactory ending. It is not enjoyable to read about a dysfunctional and disturbed family. I may have liked it better if there was some more positive resolution at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago