This novel is written around Eliza, the daughter of Saul Naumann and Miriam. Aaron is her brother. Saul is the son of Henry and Lisa. Miriam is the daughter of wealthy parents, Ruth and Ms. Mel. Eliza is studying in McKinley elementary school, where she is one of the students of Ms. Bergermeyer’s class of slow learners. In the same school, Ms. Lodowski, a teacher, is the overseer of McKinley’s elementary Talented and Gifted placement programme. Dr. Morris, the Principal administers the Spelling Bee Contest. Eliza wins the contest. This truly American tradition encourages learning, and better familiarity with the language. At Norristown school, she takes part in the District Bee contest. The Principal Mr. Stanley Julien is the pronouncer. Eliza wins the “ District Bee” contest and poses along with the trophy, her fellow runner up, Aaron, Ms. Rai, and Mr. Julien. Then she wins the Greater Philadelphia metro area Spelling Championship also. This news along with the photograph gets a front-page attention. Saul encourages her for the Nationals, provides a dictionary, a study area, and makes a sample schedule. Eliza and her father arrive, at the venue of the contest, in a hotel. There are four ex-participants as Comfort Counselors, for guidance. At one stage, Ms. Paul the teacher warns Eliza, that she may not allow her, to participate in spelling bee contest, if she does not pay adequate attention. She is not normal due to their family problems, and she loses the contest, when everyone expected her to come out a winner. She does not enjoy now. Miriam is having a habit of stealing, from the age of eight and a half years. Paul’s attitude in giving the rationale for such deals does not stop Miriam from stealing habits, even after the death of her parents in a car accident. She is arrested. Saul shares this information with Eliza.
Miriam was keeping the stolen items in a place, and calling it as her Kaleidoscope. Aaron had been feeling lonely. He tried Meditation, Buddhism, reading books such as “ Are you a Hindu? “, thinks of Caste system and number of Gods. He meets John (now named Chali), who asks Aaron to come to ISKCON temple, and see for himself. When he comes there, he sees shaved head of Chali. He is told that Krishna is the word for God, and that they all work in harmony with others, and this improves our relationship with God. He is shown Japa beads, containing 108 beads. Aaron chants Hare Krishna several times in a day, follows the restrictions imposed, and participates in the Kirtan. He misleads his father, saying that he has joined Sierra Club, and that he is going on camps etc., but he tells Eliza the truth. The novel ends with Eliza losing at the last stage, which is partly due to each member of the family going in different directions, and a lack of trust and cohesiveness between them. Besides two other important characters viz. Ms. Paul, teacher and John (or Chali or Charlie) friend of Aaron, there are 50 other characters that figure somewhere or the other, in the novel. The book has some words, written in Hebrew and Hindi. This is author’s first novel, and that too a national best seller. Taken in an overall perspective, it has a stamp of the talent of the author, for narrating events of joy & despair alike. It does deserve a reading in one sitting.