The War that Saved My Life (hardcover)
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
AR Level 4.1, 9 points
Newbery Honor 2016
I love historical fiction, especially when it’s broken down so I can understand it from a relatable point of view, and it tells an aspect of the event that I am unfamiliar with… those are my favorite. When it comes to World War II, I’ve read lots of historical fiction about the holocaust, and not a whole lot more.
This book is from the perspective of a London native who was evacuated with her little brother to the countryside of Kent. I didn’t know that children were evacuated and put with families in the country, though it certainly makes sense. Ada isn’t like all of the other evacuees, though. She has clubfoot, and has spent her entire life locked away by her abusive mother and told she’s ugly, simple, and unloved. Ada’s little brother Jamie is her entire life, and she has to protect him from their mother and the world, but she is the one who really needs protecting.
Ada and Jamie escape to Kent and are placed with a woman named Susan. We learn she has recently lost her “best friend” (but astute readers can infer it was her life partner since she was also disowned by her father for their relationship, and she feels such a deep loss). Susan shows Ada and Jamie love, attention, affection, and care of their basic needs, which the children had never felt, and Ada has a hard time accepting. This is not only a story about World War II evacuees, but of an abused girl who learns to care, and realize she herself is lovable.
What I liked about this book was that it was sent in a time that I have little experience with. I think any reader will be able to learn more about the war from a child’s perspective, and to me, that is fascinating. I liked that Ada went through such a great change, and that things worked out for the best for her (I love happy endings), and that it left me guessing. I wanted a flash forward to see her progress in a year.
What I didn’t like was there were some parts that were hard to believe. I found it hard to take in that a mother could be so harsh and show little remorse, even in the end. I also didn’t like that there was unfinished plot lines. I thought there was more that could have been explained. People disappeared and building relationships weren’t seen through.
I would recommend this book, especially to readers who enjoy historical fiction.
Book 29 of 40 (year 2)