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Eliza's father, Saul, a scholar and cantor, had long since given up expecting sparks of brilliance on her part. While her brother, Aaron, had taken pride in reciting his Bar Mitzvah prayers from memory, she had typically preferred television reruns to homework or reading. This belated evidence of a miraculous talent encourages Saul to reassess his daughter. And after she wins the statewide bee, he begins tutoring her for the national competition, devoting to Eliza the hours he once spent with Aaron. His daughter flowers under his care, eventually coming to look at life "in alphabetical terms." "Consonants are the camels of language," she realizes, "proudly carrying their lingual loads."
Vowels, however, are a different species, the fish that flash and glisten in the watery depths. Vowels are elastic and inconstant, fickle and unfaithful.... Before the bee, Eliza had been a consonant, slow and unsurprising. With her bee success, she has entered vowelhood.When Saul sees the state of transcendence that she effortlessly achieves in competition, he encourages his daughter to explore the mystical states that have eluded him--the influx of God-knowledge (shefa) described by the Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia. Although Saul has little idea what he has set in motion, "even the sound of Abulafia's name sets off music in her head. A-bu-la-fi-a. It's magic, the open sesame that unblocked the path to her father and then to language itself."
Meanwhile, stunned by his father's defection, Aaron begins a troubling religious quest. Eliza's brainy, compulsive mother is also unmoored by her success. The spelling champion's newfound gift for concentration reminds Miriam of herself as a girl, and she feels a pang for not having seen her daughter more clearly before. But Eliza's clumsy response to Miriam's overtures convinces her mother that she has no real ties to her daughter. This final disappointment precipitates her departure into a stunning secret life. The reader is left wondering what would have happened if the Naumanns' spiritual thirsts had not been set in restless motion. A poignant and exceptionally well crafted tale, Bee Season has a slow beginning but a tour-de-force conclusion. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
this is a very well done book … it takes a family and shows how each person in that family has his/her own existence. plus it manages to weave them together. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lynn A Deglin
1) Two stars instead of one because maybe if the blurb had said "a close look at madness" instead of "a masterful portrayal of modern family life" then I would have... Read morePublished 4 months ago by a reader
I actually would like to give this 2.5 stars but can't and I'm feeling a bit generous today so I will round up instead of down. I had great hopes for this book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by luvs2read
There are two novels in here fighting each other for supremacy: the story of thirteen-year old Eliza, ugly duckling turned spelling whiz, and the story of Eliza’s parents, in... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joe Da Rold
This novel is like four short stories interwoven and tied together. A good short story has a deep, complex understanding of the human condition and is able to express it in a crisp... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Adam
great depiction of a dysfunctional family whose origins of despair lie in the grandparents. I thought the relationship and competition between the siblings was both realistic and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Judith huizenga