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Bee Season
Author - Myla Goldberg

Eliza Naumann is a nine-year-old girl who is an average student at school. One day, the teacher holds a spelling test in which Eliza manages to beat all her classmates and in the last round, the cleverest kids in the middle school. She goes on to win the district spelling bee and incredibly, reaches the finals of the National Spelling Bee.
Her father, Saul, who is a professor of Jewish religious studies, becomes obsessed with her winning. He teaches her Kabbalah, the mystical side of Judaism, to strengthen her mental faculties. Eliza, who was till then overshadowed by her older brotherís achievements and neglected by her father, is suddenly the apple of his eye. Saul not only influences Eliza but his son, Aaron and wife Miriam, an accomplished lawyer. All of them are pulled into his so-called spiritual quest.
The book is the story of how the pressures of a competition cause havoc in a middle-class familyís life. In the end, it is upto young Eliza to put back the shattered pieces of her world together.
Bee Season was made into a film in 2005, starring Richard Gere as Saul Naumann. The author, Myla Goldberg lives in New York with her husband, cartoonist Jason Little. This was her first book, published when she was only 27, to great critical acclaim.

Excerpt:
Bergermeyer is ten chairs away. Melanie Turpin, who has a brother or sister in every grade in the primary wing, sits down after spelling TOMARROW, which evern Eliza knows is spelled with an O. Eliza also knows that LISARD is supposed to have a Z and that Personel needs a second N. And suddenly the bee gets more interesting. Because Eliza is spelling all the words right. So that when Ms.Bergermeyer gives Eliza Raspberry, she stands a little straighter, proudly including the P before moving on to the B-e-r-r-y. By the time Bergermeyer has worked her way through the class to the end of the first round, Eliza is one of the few left standing.

Book Facts:
Publisher: Doubeday
Paperback version: 2001
Pages: 280
ISBN: 0385498802
Price: Rs.570
For Ages: 12 and above

Review - Jayanthi Mahalingam

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