Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg

I’ll admit that the deciding factor in buying this book was the photo of the author, Myla Goldberg, on the back cover. I took one look at her big glasses, chunky shoes and Pippi Longstocking tights and thought, “oh, I definitely want to read what she has to say!” And I was not disappointed.
Eliza has never been the standout in her family. Her mother, Miriam, is a successful lawyer, her brother, Aaron, is a prodigy and her father is fully invested in making sure her brother becomes a rabbi. Eliza is in the class for slow learners and no one expects much of her. When she wins the school spelling bee, she doesn’t even bother to tell anyone.

I positively ached for Aaron, reading this book. He was the focus of his father’s attention, the apple of his eye, daddy’s little prodigy. Suddenly, that is ripped away from him as his father focuses on Eliza’s budding talent, leaving him bereft. It should come as no surprise that he begins to search for something to fill that void, someone to focus their attention on him, someplace to belong when he feels like an outcast in his own home.

As Eliza racks up more spelling bee wins, the balance in the family begins to change and everyone must reevaluate their role. Her brother certainly begins to re-think his plan to become a rabbi. His father shifts his spotlight entirely onto his suddenly-brilliant daughter. And as is so often the case, the biggest changes in the family come from out of left field, as Miriam’s secrets cause the family to remake itself yet again.

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