Eliza Naumann spells words. Lots of words. Hard words. Long words. And with an effortlessness and understanding that surprises everyone around her. Her teachers, her fellow students. But especially those closest to her: her father, mother and brother. The people whose lives Eliza's newfound genius will irrevocably change. As Eliza Naumann trains for the ultimate test of her spelling powers--the pressure-packed National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C--her family simultaneously begins to fall apart. Indeed the more amazing the words are that Eliza learns to spell, the more communication seems to break down all around her. Her father Saul, a religious studies professor, sees something transcendent in Eliza's magical gift, and begins to teach her the secrets of Kabbalah. He becomes obsessed with her victories, living vicariously through her path to God. Her mother Miriam finds Eliza and Saul's shared focus a painful reminder of the connection she once had with her husband and her own parents, who died tragically when she was a young girl. Meanwhile, Eliza's older brother Aaron, once her father's favorite, rebels against his withdrawal of affection, experimenting with other religions, and eventually seeking out a connection with a beautiful Hare Krishna. With her family disintegrating before her young eyes, it's up to Eliza--and an unexpected act of selflessness and love--to put the broken pieces of her world back together.