Shadow of a Bull is the story of Manolo, who struggles to find his own purpose in life as the people around him try to make him into the next great bullfighter, just like his father. It dives deeply into the rich history of Spain and of bullfighting, and Wojciechowska helpfully gives a glossary of all the Spanish bullfighting terms she uses. The whole book is basically a love letter to bullfighting and its roots in Spanish culture.
It’s also really boring.
This is the type of book where my mind goes wandering off while in the middle of reading, unable to find enough interest to keep its attention going. One time I read three pages without really processing what was happening, then had to give myself a little mental shake to get back on track. There was nothing to the book that really grabbed my attention and held it; I rushed to finish it because I was so bored of reading it.
Maybe it’s because outside of the main plot of Manolo deciding he doesn’t want to be a bullfighter, nothing else happens. It’s just bullfighting terms and people talking about bullfighting. That’s it.
I suppose after such a long string of good Newbery Medals, there had to be one that I didn’t like. Shadow of a Bull was not my cup of tea at all.