Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Myla Goldberg

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Myla Goldberg lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Jason Little.
 
Published January 1, 2000 by Random House. 288 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Young Adult. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bee Season

Kirkus Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews

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An impressive debut about a young girl from a brilliant but eccentric family whose special talent earns her a place in the family and finally in the world.

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The New York Times

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As Eliza spells her way toward the national bee in Washington, Miriam retreats into the past (and more dangerously, her head), Aaron flirts with another religion (and a shiksa goddess in Hare Krishna robes played by Kate Bosworth) and Saul slowly loses himself in his daughter's success.

Nov 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

AV Club

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Three films into their joint career, directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel remain stealth auteurs, not immediately recognizable even to film buffs.

Nov 09 2005 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

AV Club

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While it's common for writers or artists to claim that American families like Eliza's suffer from a feeling of spiritual emptiness, Goldberg doesn't take the usual shots at suburbia, the media, or consumerism.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Like the shards of divine light that mystics believe were scattered when the world began, the Jewish Naumann family splits apart in Myla Goldberg's inventive, pop-scholarly first novel Bee Season.

Jun 30 2000 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

People

While Bee Season loses its way in the middle, the 28-year-old Goldberg is a skilled hand at evoking scenes—the stadium venue for a spelling bee that takes on the coloration of "the best-of-breed tent at a county fair"-and has a clear understanding of the heart of darkness that is often just anoth...

Jun 05 2000 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

Austin Chronicle

Eliza, the daughter, wins the elementary school spelling bee, then the district bee, the state bee, and finally, attends the national bee.

Jun 23 2000 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

A Patchwork of Books

Okay, sated by cake, I can now say that Myla's fascinating (even more fascinating than cake, really!) and I'm going straight away to read her bestselling novel, Bee Season.

Sep 22 2014 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

Project MUSE

"Abulafia believed that, by concentrating on letters, the mind could loose itself from its shackles to commune with a presence greater than itself, .

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Variety

When Eliza first exhibits her special talent, Saul takes her under his wing, impressing her with the ancient belief that all the secrets of the universe are contained in letters, and deconstructing the alphabet in a way that actually does increase her capacity for spelling.

Sep 06 2005 | Read Full Review of Bee Season: A Novel

Reader Rating for Bee Season
65%

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