Kathleen Hagen's Reviews > Bee Season

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
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Jan 05, 2009

bookshelves: 2008-audio-books, 2008-general-fiction
Read in June, 2008

Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg, Narrated by Myla Goldberg, produced by recorded Books, downloaded from audible.com.

Publisher’s note:
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.

I would add that it is a very good book which Myla Goldberg reads herself with feeling and warmth. She has a small voice, so she reads Eliza best, but she does pretty well with the whole family. The ending was certainly unconventional and, in some ways, less than satisfying because we don’t know the motivation for the actions, nor what the consequence of the actions was. We can guess, and maybe that’s what Goldberg wants here.

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