Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong plot and characters draw you in and keep you hooked.
Cons: None
The Bottom Line
Middle grade novel
That speaks to you no matter
When you first read it

The Bronze Bow Grabs Me Every Time I Read It

I was first introduced to The Bronze Bow in my 8th grade English class. I enjoyed it so much then, I went out and read the author's other books. I recently picked this one up again and was amazed at how powerful it still was to me.

The story concerns Daniel, a young Jew at the time of Christ. He has an intense hatred of the Romans and lives with in an outlaw band in the hills. When his grandmother dies, he must move to the village of Nazareth to take care of his mentally ill sister, Leah, while trying to continue his life's mission of driving the Romans back to Rome. He is drawn to the miracle worker, but just doesn't know what he truly thinks about Jesus. Is he the Messiah sent to free them from the Romans? And will his sister ever recover?

Meanwhile, Daniel continues his zealot work from his blacksmith shop. When the plans begin to go wrong, he faces grave danger from the Romans.

Ms. Speare was able to create a complex plot that is simple enough for her target age (late elementary through middle school) to understand, but still captivating to adults. I got so caught up in the events when I was rereading that I couldn't put it down. Along the way, the author slips in a couple familiar Bible stories. While you don't need to be familiar with them to get what is happening, it adds a nice touch for those of us who do know them.

The characters are also well developed, especially Daniel and Leah. By the time the climax comes, you are so invested in the characters it is as emotional for you as it is for them.  Yes, I'll admit that I have cried every time I have read the last chapter, and I've read this book 4 or 5 times over the years.

The setting is as much a part of the story as the characters are. Israel under Roman rule is brought to vivid life and we get to learn some of what that life was truly like. As much as I enjoy history, this is a very painless way to get a picture of another time.

The writing flows. One reason this book is hard to put down is how smoothly it pulls you into the story. You forget you are reading a book and feel like you are right beside Daniel.

There's a reason The Bronze Bow won the Newberry Medal award. I highly recommend this children's novel to readers of all ages.

This is an entry in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, hosted by Shannon Messenger.  Check out the link for more Middle Grade Awesomeness.


  1. I love this book as well...Elizabeth George Speare was a master at creating a historical setting and an emotional plot that totally enthralls.
    Nice review!

  2. Yeah, her other books are just as great as this one. I'm so glad I found her stuff.

  3. I did not read this until I was an adult (or her Witch at Blackbird Pond either) and adored each of them. As did my kids. So truly, her writing does speak to all ages.

  4. My mom actually read this one aloud to us, and all of us (both parents and my younger brother) were hanging on every word. It truly transcends age.

  5. I have read The Witch of Blackbird Pond many times, but have never heard of this one! I will have to read it. Thanks for the review!

  6. Yes, you must read this book.

    After reading this one, I read Witch of Blackbird Pond and really enjoyed it, too. It will show up on some future MMGM, I just can't promise when.

  7. I have read Witch of Blackbird Pond as well both for my 5th grade accelerated program and loved it! I truly recommend this book for all ages.

    1. After loving this book, I moved on to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which is equally as good.


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