Bee Season = 80 down, 20 to go

22 Aug

Bee Season
Myla Goldberg
275 pages

Every family has its own dynamics. Some operate in sync with one another. Some orbit one another. Some contain members that seemingly operate independently one another, only colliding occasionally.

In Bee Season, sister, brother, mother and father live under the same room, but each – in some sense – exists independently of the others. Eliza is the seemingly ordinary, average daughter who only stands out on the horizon of her family when she begins to win spelling bee after spelling bee. She describes one encounter on the spelling bee stage this way:

There is a pause, like the split section between touching the thing that’s too hot and feeling the burn. Then, the bell.

Up until the time Eliza discovers her gift for spelling, her brother, Aaron, had been the golden child, consuming their father Saul’s time and focus.  The mother, Miriam, is an attorney and nearly always disengaged from the day-to-day interactions of her family.

With Eliza’s skyrocketing ascent to the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C., her father becomes singularly focused on training her and eventually becomes convinced she will be able to obtain a level of enlightenment set forth by the teachings of a prestigious Kabbalah scholar. Simultaneously, Aaron has his own religious awakening after a chance encounter with a member of the Hare Krishnas, sneaking out of the house to attend services. The reader sees Miriam, at the same time, experiencing her long-time obsession with shoplifting escalate to breaking and entering into strangers’ homes…the goal to retrieving items that she intrinsically identifies as missing parts of herself.

The author shares observations and insights from each of the book’s four family characters. It’s interesting to wade your way through the myriad of competingperspectives of each of them.


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