The Bronze Bow is young adult historical fiction written by Elizabeth George Speare, winner of the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature. Set in first century Israel, it follows Daniel’s struggles to break free of Roman oppression. Daniel hates the Romans for killing his father. When his mother dies and he is apprenticed to a cruel master, he runs away and is rescued by bandits. He plans vengeance and waits for the promised day of deliverance.

When his grandmother dies Daniel returns to care for his reclusive sister. He works in the blacksmith shop of Simon the Zealot, who now follows the teacher, Jesus. As Daniel makes new friends and new enemies, he struggles with what it means to be free.

Speare has an amazing aptitude for expressing the dynamic of the adolescent mind. Emotional landscape is vivid but not forced. Descriptive narrative gives vital detail without being dull. The storyline is complex and believable—the journey of a boy into early manhood in a confusing and dangerous time. Depictions of Jesus are very human, yet uplifting. Complementing biblical concepts, his dialogs with Daniel are anything but preachy.

This book is a gem often overlooked, an enjoyable read. It leaves you wanting more.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.