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Bee Seasonby Myla Goldberg
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Imagine a Jewish Ordinary People and then some....Unexpectedly powerful..." Newsweek
"Goldberg's insights into religious devotion, guilt, love, obsessive personalities and family dynamics ring true, and her use of spelling-as-metaphor makes a clever trope in a novel populated by literate scholars and voracious readers. Her quiet wit, balanced by an empathetic understanding of human foibles, animates every page....[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
"[F]ervidly intelligent....Bee Season flickers past like a dream, and it is artful indeed." The New York Times Books Review
"In a story told with unique delicacy and brave inventiveness, a young girl, innocent and all-knowing, learns how much there is to lose, and what it takes to win." Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle
"Bee Season is a profound delight, an amazement, a beauty, and is, I hope, a book of the longest of seasons." Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World and The Book of Ruth
"Myla Goldberg's Bee Season is a bittersweet coming-of-age in which wise little Eliza Naumann's quirky passion for spelling bees unites and divides her family while revealing universal truths about the often crippling pain of love." Martha McPhee, author of Bright Angel Time
"There is such joy and pain thrumming inside Myla Goldberg's spelling bees! She delicately captures one family's spinning out by concentrating equally on the beauty and the despair. Bee Season is a heartbreaking first novel." Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
This "honey of a first novel" (People) — now in paperback — is a coming-of-age story about Eliza Naumann, who amazes everyone by winning a spelling bee.
About the Author
Myla Goldberg lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Jason Little.
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