Bee Season

Have added Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season to my book recommendations list. What an amazing book. I only wish I’d read it earlier, when I first heard about it a year or two ago.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at My old book review webpage is no longer up, but I’ve pasted the text of my review below.]

This is an amazing book, in both plot and language. On the surface it is a simple coming-of-age story of a young social and familial misfit named Eliza, who suddenly enjoys the attention of all those around her when she wins the district spelling bee. Eventually, the events set in motion by her success lead to deeper and more surprising discoveries, with consequences not just for Eliza but also the other members of her family. Each person struggles in his or her own way to find the essential meaning of life and proof of the existence of God (this is my interpretation; the book is both all about and not at all about religion). Partly because of the spelling bees, language is very much a central character in this book. There is some mind-blowing imagery; how could there not be when the characters are attempting to glimpse eternity?

Classification: This novel covers a lot of ground, ranging from the complete mundaneness of school life, to the incomprehensible beauty of true perfection. There’s a lot more of the school stuff at the beginning, and it’s very funny and apt and enjoyable. Later on it gets very deep and if you want to really take in what you’re reading, you have to slow the pace and read where no one will bother you. In the end the book takes a longer time than it would seem, but it’s very worthwhile.