The War I Finally Won (audiobook)
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Before you read The War I Finally Won, let me tell you, listening to the audiobook is a totally different experience than reading it as a hardcover or ebook. The audiobook is read by Jayne Entwistle, and she has a strong accent and changes to a German accent when reading the parts of Ruth, the German girl, or Ruth’s parents. I read the first book, The War That Saved My Life, when it first came out last year, and I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy the second book more than the first (because you know, the first book is always better). I’m not sure if the book itself was better, or just the audiobook experience.
This book is Ada’s life after her mother gives her up. It opens with Ada getting her foot surgery to correct her clubfoot. Soon, we learn Ada and Jamie’s mother has passed away in a bombing (which ISN’T sad since their mother was such a horrible woman). Ada is in panic mode and shuts down when she thinks she and Jamie will end up in an orphanage, which is ridiculous, because obviously, Susan loves them and takes them into her care. They live in a cottage (aka small mansion) with Lady Thornton, and eventually Ruth, a German Jew who is being tutored by Susan. Throughout the story, Ada needs constant reminders that she is loved and wanted by Susan, that she’s not a burden, and that she’s smart. Ada goes through a lot of positive changes, some spurred by some tough situations, and comes out on top by the end of the war.
What I liked about this book was the change in Ada’s character. She had so many moments of self-doubt, but the reader is constantly cheering her on and hoping for the best outcome. Ada started the series a shattered, abused little girl, and finished book 2 (I’m not sure if there’s to be another) a stronger, more secure young woman. She became the protector of others, and finally learned to call Susan Mum.
What I didn’t like about this book was perhaps intentional by the author, and only bugged me. It was obvious to me (from the beginning of the series) that Susan is a lesbian. Parents rejected her and her relationship with her partner. Perhaps it wasn’t something that was talked about back then, perhaps the author meant for that to go over the heads of child readers, or perhaps I’m just delusional. It was clear that their love was deep, and more than just friends. I think it might confuse young readers who don’t understand why Susan and Becky faced so much opposition with their friendship. Why did Becky’s dad refuse to acknowledge it? I, as an adult, understood, but I know it went over the heads of my students.
Book 16 of 40