I’m a little reluctant to include this in The Rhapsodies. Yes, I discriminate the books that make it here. This is my blog anyway. And why am I so defensive?
I have read a lot of books, but I am afraid that not all of them are worth remembering. I think this work blurs that line between those areas, and it has now officially jumped over to that sphere of books that have something important to say.
Moving on, I mistook this for a dictionary. It belonged to my aunt, and I will make a mental note to ask her to give it to me. Anyway, I borrowed it because after flipping a few pages, I found it really interesting. So what is the magnetic force that this book has?
Spelling bees. I love spelling bees. Back in my elementary years, I used to compete in such contests. I even won one for a church-based spelling bee, and there were a lot of participants that were older than me. Well, older doesn’t always mean wiser.
But that was in elementary. I still competed in high school but I never won or even became a runner-up. The moderate words were too difficult for me, but I found it strange why I was able to spell out the difficult words. Some words I remember are exacerbate, abscess, sauerkraut, mishmash, caucus, Armageddon, elite. And promissory. I lost because of that word in one of my earlier spelling bees.
Enough of that. Let’s get to the book.
Really, I cannot recall the names of the characters. What I remember were the spelling bees. There’s this girl who had a knack for spelling hard words. She’s from a Jewish family. Now that I mentioned it, there seemed to be a Jewish ritual that was being prepared, but someone who’s good with words was needed to complete that one.
The older brother of the girl was the original choice for this ritual. However, he didn’t seem to be able to grasp the whole idea of this thing unlike the girl. So when the girl started gaining attention, she won her father’s respect and he prepared her for that ritual.
I keep on repeating that ritual, but really, I cannot recall what that ritual was about. It’s something mystical, that’s for sure. It’s something that I didn’t choose to remember because I was so absorbed with the spelling bees. There were the regionals and the nationals. The girl made it to the nationals by spelling eyrir correctly. But she lost in the finals. And guess what the winning word was.
The word that eliminated the girl from the nationals was something that had a Y in it. I cannot remember what the word was. Oh my, I think I need to shut up now. I cannot remember the names, the details, and the plot.
The girl had a special way of spelling her words. She would envision them in her mind after she heard them, and she would let the words take their form in their correct spelling. This was how she won with eyrir.
Aside from all that spelling stuff, I think there is something significant that the author wished to say in this book. If only I could recall the whole thing. But all I get are snippets of the spelling bees.
In addition, there were also family issues. I have a feeling that there was a sibling rivalry going on between the girl and the older brother. The latter used to be the father’s favorite, and things turned around to the girl’s favor. The girl used to be an underdog, the child who was never noticed. The spelling bee meant a lot to her, but she didn’t win.
Life went on after the nationals and the failed attempt at that ritual. She was still a kid after all. She had years ahead of her to fulfill whatever she wanted to embark on. That rings vibrantly in life. Everything will resume its normal pace after successes and catastrophes. Don’t dwell on them too much.
I should say that to myself more often. And oh, the book has a movie adaptation. Well, some things had been modified, but I’ll try watching it after this so that I could recall what this book was really about. I don’t want it just to be something that is left in the murky recesses of my mind.