jess's Reviews > Bee Season

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
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's review
May 05, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobook-d, 2009, fiction
Recommended to jess by: Ariel Federow
Read in May, 2009

Bee Season exists at the baffling intersection of Spelling Bees, Jewish mysticism, Hare Krishna recruitment, and mental illness. Each family member has a sort of unconventional relationship with the others, although it's difficult to see how very strange things are until they start to fall apart. (Oh, Chinua Achebe, you go everywhere with me).

The very average, younger sister becomes the favored child when Eliza suddenly displays her surprising aptitude for turning words into carefully placed letters recited aloud. This provides an opportunity for the fissures of the family to become giant gullies straight through the middle of a very normal family. Her older brother starts spending time with people who shave their heads, smell like incense, wear orange robes, and talk about the illusions of the material world. Her mother drifts further and further away from reality. Her father misses the whole unraveling, caught up in his enthusiasm for Eliza's potential & the going-on's of Transcendence.

I was captivated by the fumbling, ineffective parenting. I mean, no one really "knows" how to "be a good parent," but it is always remarkable how best intentions can go so awry. When your kid joins a cult, is it your shortcoming as a parent? I also loved the very honest way that Goldberg explored the ways that Saul transfers his own dreams/goals onto a kid's life experience. Aaron & Eliza resolve that pressure in very different ways. This provides insight into their convictions & spirit.

In the post-book interview, Goldberg says that she only knew Eliza's character and the final scene of the book, and that the rest of the story unfolded itself to her as she wrote it. Dang! What a ride through the fiction lurking in the back of Myla's brain.

I read this on the suggestion of Ariel Federow. She said, "I liked it a lot. I don't want to blow the ending." As a person who *loved* A Prayer for Owen Meany in high school, this sort of review with a mysterious, spoil-able ending really intrigues me. I not only requested it from the library, but bumped it to the top of my "to read" queue, getting it on audiobook because that is the fastest way for me to get through a book. I commute, okay? Anyway, I was glad I did because this book is the JAM.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by eva (new)

eva hell yes. i LOVE this book but am incapable of reviewing/recommending it without ruining the ending. awesome.

jess eva wrote: "hell yes. i LOVE this book but am incapable of reviewing/recommending it without ruining the ending. awesome."

did i do okay???

message 3: by eva (new)

eva yes! it's amazing the way that the family dynamics in this book grow so sympathetically and slowly into something so twisted. you captured that really well.

Ehrrin You had me at Owen Meany.

I've sort of vaguely planned to read this for a while, though I didn't know anything about it (except "it's good" and "i liked it").

I just bumped it up to the top of the pile.

Your reviews are awesome. You're singlehandedly responsible for many of my recent reads. Have i mentioned how happy I am that you are on goodreads?!

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