We were given the privilege to review Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver - Author. I have to be honest, I wasn't sure what to think about it at first.
I struggled when I first was reading the book. There were a lot of characters introduced and to keep track of. I struggled mostly with the pronunciation of their names (they are foreign names after all). But, you know what? I ended up falling in love with all of these characters and really felt like I was right there involved in their lives.
First, here are the nitty gritty details of the book:
~ Genre: historical fiction
~ Length: 375 pages
~ Grade Level: 8th grade - High School
Next, a little summary of the book. The premise to this book is from the Bible, particularly in the book of Joshua chapters 9 & 10 (I love that!). The family that we follow is the Ra-eef family. They are a family of potters from the land of Gibeon. The patriarch is Ishtaba Ra-eef who lives with his family, including his mother Gran-Mamaa Amara, his wife Mamaa Danya, his 5 sons and 2 daughters. They are living their lives and selling their pottery until this strange group of people start destroying cities around Gibeon. They learn that these strangers are the Hebrews and that they fight differently than others do.
We follow the main character, who happens to be a 12 year old boy named Keshub. He truly reminded me of my own son who happens to be 12. I saw a lot of my son in Keshub. Not necessarily the physical part (after all, my son doesn't have to lug water to the house daily), but emotionally, spiritually, and in maturity level. I thought that the author, Peggy Consolver, really nailed what a 12 year old is like.
Personally, I have found that this age is when a HUGE change happens in the life of a young boy. At the beginning of the year, they begin as a young boy, but by the end of that same year, they are really a young man. Their perspective changes and they see life differently. This is what we see in the life of Keshub. We follow his year from starting out as a lowly shepherd, moving into the life of a potter, then taking up the responsibility of being a spy. Finally, he understands who the Star Namer is and is mature enough to understand what that means for him and his life.
Did you notice the title of the book in the life of Keshub? He starts as a shepherd, then a potter, moves into being a spy, and at the end of the book he gets to know the Star Namer. I didn't catch it until the end of the book, when it is all brought together.
By the end of the book, I couldn't put it down! I was engrossed in the lives of these wonderful people! I loved how the author portrayed Joshua (one of my favorite Bible characters) and the Hebrew people. She really let us take a deeper look at what life might have been like for the Hebrew nation, but more importantly, how others saw the Hebrew army. I never really thought about what it would have been like for the people in the land of Canaan.
You know what I loved most about the book? I loved the Biblical references that were inter-twined in the lives of these fictional characters. Peggy Consolver really did a fantastic job showing us what it might have been like to live during this time period, in these Bible stories that I learned as a child! I mean, in this story, the sun actually stands still! I love it!
It's not just the book, though. There is a study guide to go along with it. As part of the study guide, there is a map of the region, videos on bow making and how to use a sling, as well as some biblical archaeology as of 2016. It's really a great addition to bring the book even more to life.
By the end of the book, I was sad to see it end. I wanted to know more about what Keshub was going to do next. Maybe there will be a sequel?
To read more reviews of this book, click the link below!