Bee Season: A Novel Summary
Myla Goldberg

Everything you need to understand or teach Bee-Season by Myla Goldberg.

  • Bee Season: A Novel Summary & Study Guide
  • 30 Bee Season: A Novel Lessons
  • 20 Activities
  • 180 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 60 Short Essay Questions
  • 20 Essay Questions
  • Pre-Made Tests and Quizzes
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Bee Season: A Novel Summary

Fifth-grade student Eliza Naumann is, and probably always will be, average. This is only unfortunate when one considers that Eliza is the only average member of the Naumann family. Her parents, Saul and Miriam, are intellectually superior, as is Aaron, Eliza's older brother. Other than an affinity for movies and television, there is not much that makes Eliza stand out. At McKinley Elementary school, Eliza is a mediocre student, at best. Everything shifts for Eliza Naumann and her entire family, however, when she wins the school and district spelling bees.

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg is the story of a Eliza Naumann's search for her own specialness in a family of patently special people. Saul and Miriam Naumann are both only children who live peacefully with their offspring in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Saul, a student of Jewish mysticism, is a cantor at the local synagogue. His wife Miriam is a driven woman who works as a lawyer and keeps an obsessively clean house. Aaron Nausmann, who is sixteen at the beginning of the novel, has inherited his parents' thirst for knowledge. Aaron is a brilliant student, if somewhat socially maladjusted, who begins the narrative searching for God. Eliza Naumann, however, embarks on her own journey into spirituality and maturity when her father offers to help her "get to know the letters" in preparation for the national spelling bee. Through the writings of thirteenth-century Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia, Eliza comes to realize that spelling is more than simply assembling letters into words. To Eliza, spelling becomes a way to commune with God and achieve transcendent enlightenment.

Bee Season is also the story of a family whose members all harbor explosive individual secrets. Saul Naumann thirsts for the kind of spiritual acuity he sees in his daughter Eliza. His studies of Abraham Abulafia do not take shape for Saul Naumann until Eliza begins studying for the national bee. Aaron Naumann yearns to be accepted and loved by a God with whom he can communicate at will. He finds God in an unlikely place and refuses to let go. Miriam Naumann is a kleptomaniac whose compulsion eventually drives her to break into strangers' houses in order to reclaim parts of her fragmented self. Eliza Naumann secretly wishes to achieve enlightenment in order to finally take home the trophy for winning the national spelling bee. "Bee season," that time of preparing to take the stage and turn herself over to the magic of dancing letters, becomes a season of awakening for the entire Naumann family as Saul, Miriam, Aaron and young Eliza are forever changed.

Then there is the kaleidoscope—the ultimate evidence that things can be ordered and re-ordered until they form a colorful, stimulating the unification of one fragmented soul's emotional detritus.

(read more from the Study Guide)

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