Saturday, March 28, 2015

The War that Saved My Life (review)

The War that Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publisher: Dial Books (January 8, 2015)

Ten year old Ada has never left her apartment in pre-WWII London, because her Mam is ashamed of Ada's clubfoot. She doesn't even know how to walk, but then her brother, Jamie, brings home news that children are to be evacuated to families living in the countryside as the war threatens bombings. Ada doesn't want to be left behind with her abusive mother and starts a secret campaign to teach herself to walk. When they are notified that Jamie is to be evacuated, Ada's mother says she can't go, but Ada sneaks out and limps to the station to make her escape.

When they arrive, nobody really wants them, but the woman in charge finally convinces a spinster, Miss Susan Smith, to take them in for a while. Over the course of the book, Ada struggles with whether she can trust Miss Smith even as she learns to love her. She knows that at any moment, her Mam may take them back.

Brilliantly written and emotionally engaging, this well crafted book has a powerful message about what we deserve and what we get. It is also a wrenching story, especially with the abuse early on and the well described symptoms that we would call PTSD today. My only concern is that it may be too raw or powerful for some children. I might hesitate to offer it to a class of 4th or 5th graders, no matter what the reading level is. At the very least, a parent or teacher should probably read it first to know what is coming. With that caveat, I would strongly recommend this to boys and girls in 5th or 6th grade.

Five stars out of five.

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