The War that saved my life
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This is a great book if your reader likes:
Historical fiction set in England during World War 2.
Stories where strong, quick-witted, and brave female protagonists are up against the odds but find a way to overcome obstacles.
Emotional themes that drive the plot.
Multi-dimensional characters who they can relate to and root for, but not always like.
The theme of hope in the face of adversity.
Blurb: Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room flat. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada's twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn't waste a minute - she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Miss Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take in the two children.
The War that Saved my Life is a moving story with a fresh look at World War II evacuees. The author has created great depth through the main characters' transformations. The themes of family and identity, ignorance, and abuse are explored beautifully for children. It demonstrates how, through hope, respect, and gentle, loyal love, people can heal, and their lives can change forever.
From her mother's humiliation to how society viewed a person with a physical disability as shameful, Ada's discrimination in Wartime Britain is a topic to be discussed throughout the book. It gives valuable insight into how people have changed their views over time and the struggles individuals have had and still have to be accepted and valued.
Ada is not always likable, but this makes her both easier to empathise with and more believable. Her transformation is only possible alongside her reluctant carer, Susan Smith. Only when Susan is brave enough to love again can Ada begin to heal from her bias from birth with her disability. The cause of Susan's closed heart is a bit of a mystery; she states early on that she is 'not nice,' but the reader always senses that, like Ada, life has not been kind. It is the result of some tragedy.
There is so much to recommend about this book: It's rich characters and plot that will engage all readers, it's detailed, historical context to educate children about life at this time, and it's carefully crafted tone, such as Susan's Oxford and Ada's London dialect, that gives it the story great authenticity.