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.
At precisely 11 a.m. every teacher in every classroom at McKinley Elementary School tells their students to stand. The enthusiasm of the collective chair scrape that follows rates somewhere between mandatory school assembly and head lice inspection. This is especially the case in Ms. Bergermeyer's fourth/fifth combination, which everybody knows is where the unimpressive fifth graders are put. Eliza Naumann certainly knows this. Since being designated three years ago as a student from whom great things should not be expected, she has grown inured to the sun-bleached posters of puppies and kittens hanging from ropes, and trying to climb ladders, and wearing hats that are too big for them above captions like "Hang in there," "If at first you don't succeed . . ." and "There's always time to grow." These baby animals, which have ...
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