The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth.
A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel on page 224: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times. Quoted from Goodreads
This is an absolutely beautiful book. I first read it when I was probably about twelve, right after The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and loved it. Then it sort of fell to the back of my mind for years and years until my mom chose it for her book club and invited me to come along--two hours before it started. Frantically I read it again. At first I was just going to skim it to refresh myself on characters, story, etc. But once I started reading, I couldn't just skim. I'd forgotten how much I loved the characters and the message of this story.
Honestly, this book has everything you might be looking for in a story. Adventure, rebellion, hatred, revenge, forbidden love, dynamic characters, and personal growth. The story is told from Daniel's point of view, a Jew during the time of Christ, who absolutely despises the Romans. At times, you can almost taste his hatred, it's so palpable, but he's so much more than just hate and revenge. He cares for his sister and friends, and when he meets Jesus, you can feel the conflict tearing at him as he tries to reconcile what he wants with what his heart is telling him.
I love Elizabeth George Speare. I've read at least four of her books that I remember, and each one is beautifully written. I think the Witch of Blackbird Pond is the most famous because it doesn't deal with religion like The Bronze Bow, or at least not so blatantly. But I don't think that's all this book is. Yes there is a message of peace, faith, and forgiveness that is applicable today, but it's also a fantastic coming of age story and look into the time period.
This book is absolutely 5 stars for me. It's simple enough for a child to understand, but it has a timeless, ageless quality about it, and I found myself loving it years after I read it the first time. It has a little bit of everything in it that makes a good novel. It has a great message without feeling preachy, and a wonderful adventure that keeps you turning pages until the very end.