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Publisher's Summary

Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable 9-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.
©2000 Myla Goldberg (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Fiction, 2001
"Goldberg strikes new ground here, and displays a fresh, distinctive and totally winning voice." (Publishers Weekly)
"There is something of Holden Caulfield in Eliza, the same crazed determination to save her loved ones from themselves. An impressive debut from a remarkably talented writer." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Cathy on 01-14-06

Fascinating concept but something missing

Bee Season combines a young girl's unexpected gift for spelling with the exploration of her family's dysfunction and each family member's individual pursuit of spirituality even as the family pulls apart at the seams.

I love Goldberg's imaginative description of Eliza's experience with vowels and consonants as her spelling becomes more and more mystical. I also love the creative and beautiful depiction of Eliza's mother's obsession (I won't give anything away by saying what she's obessed with). But, some of the characters' motivations are unclear or not believable, and this makes some of the plot hard to swallow.

Also, I appreciate that Goldberg is reading her own book - but with only a few exceptions I find that actors or professional readers do a better job than the authors themselves, and this book is no exception.

Then on the positive side, Goldberg's discussion of Jewish mysticism and alternative religion is pretty fascinating.

So, I do recommend it but with some reservation. I'm curious to see the movie verion with Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Roy on 04-06-09

Goldberg's Delight

I tend to avoid fiction, but was encouraged by the reviews and friends to take this volume on. I did and I wasn't disappointed.

I seek out books that are informative, expand my sense of self and life, are well written and expertly read. This volume fills the bill on every front. This is the story of Eliza Naumann who suddenly discovers a talent for spelling and the associated competition - Spelling Bee. That is just another "coming of age" book with a grand exception. Myla Golberg has this quiet, unassuming way of letting the reader know what it is like to be part of a Cantor's family that is coming a part. She weaves wonderfully Jewish mysticism and compulsive behavior into a tremendous portrait that has revisited my mind often since reading. The portrait of how 9 year old Eliza learns to spell and her intricate relationship with her brother is worth the price of admission. Yet, there is much much more. This book was very satisfying to me.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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