The Bronze Bow *****
by Elizabeth George Speare
Overview: Daniel is living in a tense time. The Romans are in control of Israel and have killed his parents. The Jewish people are bent under the oppression of the Romans and are crying out to be delivered. Daniel dreams only of the day that he can help raise up an army to defeat the Romans and free his people.
He leaves home to join a band of outlaws whom he hopes will gain momentum and some day fight against Rome. However, in the midst of his training, he is forced to return to town and care for his disabled sister. As the story unfolds, he discovers there is more to life than pursuing revenge. He makes his first real friend. He meets Jesus. And everything begins to change.
Themes: love vs. hate, friendship, family, loyalty, freedom, sacrifice
Negative elements: demon possession, theft, murder, anger (However, the book is so well-written that these tough things are treated in a way that isn't offensive to even young children.)
Positive elements: One of my favorite parts of this book was the author's portrayal of Jesus. I felt like I was there in Israel meeting this strange rabbi named Jesus for the first time. And the effect of seeing Jesus face-to-face leaves one changed.
Conclusion: I read this book out loud to my whole family, and we all loved it. I thought it was going to be too much of a "boy" book for my girls to get into. However, my husband and all the girls were so engaged. What a powerful story! Like I mentioned earlier, the story was so well-written that it dealt with some hard issues but in a way that was appropriate for the whole family. Those, I believe, are the best books. You can read them, discuss them with the family, and be challenged by them. Thus the book goes beyond just entertainment to truly be enriching!