The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Published May 2, 2016 by Text Publishing
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the burb: Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. 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 Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
Set in 1939, The War That Saved My Life tells the story of ten year old Ada, and her younger brother Jamie. Ada, born with a clubfoot that was never treated, can't walk and is confined to their apartment by their single mother. But Ada is smarter than her mother gives her credit for, she secretly teachers herself to walk, despite the immense pain. When Jamie announces that children in London are being evacuated, Ada knows this is her chance to escape. But even though they find a new home in the country, the siblings can't fully escape their past.
Ada is a wonderful narrator and I found her story absolutely absorbing, once I began I found it hard to put down and I got through this book very quickly. Ada's life in London is lonely and sad, Jamie's is only a little better, but at least he has the freedom to leave the apartment. Being taken in by Susan was the best thing for them, but they're haunted by the abuse they grew up with, and are unable to understand when someone is trying to be kind to them.
It was touching to see them grow and improve, learning new words and tasks, making friends, and getting a second chance at life. It was also lovely to see how they improved Susan's life as well. Ada and Jamie's story reminded me of one of my favourite childhood films, Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, only their story didn't include witches and animated animals.
The War That Saved My Life is a sad yet heart-warming story that will have children and adults captivated from the very beginning.
Thank you to Text Publishing for my review copy.
Cover illustration: Josie Portillo
Cover design: Kristin Logsdon
Hand-lettering: Maggie Olson
This is a gorgeously illustrated cover and it really suits the story, I used acrylic paint for the manicure version.