Bee Season

Bee Season

A Novel

Book - 2000
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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, 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.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 2000.
ISBN: 9780385498807
Branch Call Number: GOL
Characteristics: 275 p.


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ChristchurchLib Mar 16, 2014

"Nine-year-old Eliza Naumann is an indifferent student ignored by her father, a brilliant scholar of Jewish mysticism, in favour of her "gifted and talented" older brother, Aaron. All that changes when she starts winning spelling bees. As their father starts spending more time with Eliza, grilling her for the next level of competition and seeing in her a pathway to God, Aaron looks for fulfilment elsewhere, and finds it with the Hare Krishnas. Meanwhile, breadwinner mum Miriam is losing her grip on reality, and is breaking into other people's houses as a way to give her life meaning. This touching debut was made into a movie in 2005, and starred Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche." Fiction A to Z March 2014 newsletter

May 20, 2013

To say that this book left me puzzled is an understatement. I really enjoyed Goldberg's careful construct: a seemingly normal family slowly coming apart due to miscommunication, mental illness, religious fanaticism and plain old teenage growing up. I also really enjoyed the discussion around religion: a child's acceptance, a teen's questioning, an adult's embracing. I also liked the fact that there are no easy answers: mom doesn't come home, Aaron doesn't agree and dad doesn't have all the answers.
This is definitely what makes the end so powerful, but my real question is: has Elly really achieved enlightenment or is she schizophrenic like her mother (or epileptic)? I guess that's for each reader to determine according to each one's beliefs...
This is not what I expected, but a book that I will cherish in all its weirdness and questions, loving but broken relationships and intriguing look at meditation in all its forms.

carrilis Apr 12, 2013

I can't believe it took me 12 yrs to find this book! A great story full of parallels within the family it chronicles. The ending was absolutely perfect!

Nov 04, 2010

A story about a family who love each other but have trouble showing it and really connecting. Tunnel vision, denial and unresolved childhood issues leave the parents flailing and the children drifting.

Feb 06, 2010

I thought this book was fascinating. Excellently written, about raising kids, various flavours of spirituality, growing up. I loved it.


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Jun 22, 2015

In the Naumann household, 11-year-old Eliza seems to be not quite as smart as her family members. However, that all changes when she wins the class, then school spelling bee. Now her father, a professor of Judaism, devotes attention to her as fanatically as he does to his religious studies. Her brother, Aaron, who usually receives his father's attention, gets jealous. Her mother has also been keeping secrets from the family. Read all about it in "Bee Season" by Myla Goldberg.

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