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.
©2000 Myla Goldberg; (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
"Goldberg strikes new ground here, and displays 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)
Bee Season combines a young girl's unexpected gift for spelling with the exploration of her family's dysfunction and each family member's individual pursuit of spirituality even as the family pulls apart at the seams.
I love Goldberg's imaginative description of Eliza's experience with vowels and consonants as her spelling becomes more and more mystical. I also love the creative and beautiful depiction of Eliza's mother's obsession (I won't give anything away by saying what she's obessed with). But, some of the characters' motivations are unclear or not believable, and this makes some of the plot hard to swallow.
Also, I appreciate that Goldberg is reading her own book - but with only a few exceptions I find that actors or professional readers do a better job than the authors themselves, and this book is no exception.
Then on the positive side, Goldberg's discussion of Jewish mysticism and alternative religion is pretty fascinating.
So, I do recommend it but with some reservation. I'm curious to see the movie verion with Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche.
I tend to avoid fiction, but was encouraged by the reviews and friends to take this volume on. I did and I wasn't disappointed.
I seek out books that are informative, expand my sense of self and life, are well written and expertly read. This volume fills the bill on every front. This is the story of Eliza Naumann who suddenly discovers a talent for spelling and the associated competition - Spelling Bee. That is just another "coming of age" book with a grand exception. Myla Golberg has this quiet, unassuming way of letting the reader know what it is like to be part of a Cantor's family that is coming a part. She weaves wonderfully Jewish mysticism and compulsive behavior into a tremendous portrait that has revisited my mind often since reading. The portrait of how 9 year old Eliza learns to spell and her intricate relationship with her brother is worth the price of admission. Yet, there is much much more. This book was very satisfying to me.
Having never heard of the author or the book, I was bowled over by this book. This is a story of an observant Jewish family and the stresses of everyday life upon all of them.
From the point of view of every member of the family, one gets to see how much is going on which is never communicated to the other members of the family.
I was also highly impressed with the imagery which Myla Goldberg brings to this novel. She is a master of the English language.
I recommend this very highly.
The failure of this book lies not the author's annoying character voices, or her choice not to leaven the interwoven stories with anything like an upbeat ending. Nor, surprisingly is it a lack of any of the native elements that make a novel work.
The author uses language in a fresh and original way. Her plotting is uniquely quirky. And she appears to have an imaginative if not experiential grasp of the flavors of mysticism with which the characters variously flirt.
Yet, by the time satisfaction is achieved along these paths, one grows weary of the endless disfunctionality of the paterfamilias who clodishly sustains it all.
I picked this book because another listener compared it with "The History of Love" -- a favorite of mine -- and despite the many warnings of other reviewers on this site.
I finished it out of a sense of duty to the money I spent on the download.
Not a complete waste of time -- there are phrases, images, even complete sections that will linger after the digital space is trashed. But one hopes that this author will spend her talents on something more satisfying next time.
And that she'll cede the acting to a professional, if that book is ever recorded.
I truly enjoyed this audiobook, although it may be a little far fetched. Normally the author reading their own work makes me cringe, but Myla reads it perfectly. The story flows and is very well written. Download this one.
I rate this book one star, because I at least finished the book. However, I did set it down for about a month and a half before I picked it back up. Definitely not an ear turner. I couldn't rank it higher because I was annoyed by the author. I usually enjoy when the author reads their own words, but she gave zero personality to her words. It was like a bad poetry recital. But honestly, I don't think it would have been better if I had just read the book.
The ending...whatever. I don't need things wrapped up in a pretty bow, but I like it to be a little more polished. I had to listen to the ending twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t.
Once again I learn, that just because a book is a best seller, doesn't mean it should be.
I chose this book because it was on the list of recommended books then I logged onto the site. It seemed like an interesting enough story. It started out charming and then just got annoying. It sort of disussed the dynamic of a troubled family, and then just got mystical and out there. I wish I had not taken the time to listen to this book.
The review of this book makes it sound good but I can't listen to it because the person's voice reading it is so annoying. I've tried many times but it's just too grating. I'll go get the book and read it. I wish I could return the audio download.
This book was interesting and a little mysterious. I think the author does a great job weaving the mystical Jewish storyline to the mystery of the family living together as strangers. Great story
The book follows the story of a girl who's always been 'just OK' academically, as opposed to her father's star, the 16 yr old brother who's excelled since kindergarten, where she always felt she'd been a disappointment to him and her mother. All of a sudden, at 12, she's coming into a superiority in spelling that's magical to her and she's not sure how to handle it with her family. As she progresses, changes to her and each person in the family begin. Some are subtle, some stark and with some surprising twists and turns. Is it the timing of her coming out or would they have happened anyway... Some are expected, but not quite in the way they're presented. Some are startling. Thought provoking and different. The author narrates and is OK, but I do wonder how much the presentation might change with a different reader.
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