Title: The War That Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Children’s Book, Historical Fiction, World War II
First Publication: 2015
Major Characters: Ada Smith, Jamie Smith, Susan Smith, Mam, Stephen White
Setting Place: England, United Kingdom
Theme: Persistence and Hope, Different Types of Truth and Lies
Narrator: First Person from Ada’s Point of view
Book Summary: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ten-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?
Book Review: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The War That Saved My Life is set during WWII and opens up in the Summer of 1939. Ada is ten years old, and has never left her apartment except for one time. The one time she ventured outside she was beaten so badly by her mother. I knew within 90 seconds of starting this audio book I absolutely despised the mother. She is so disgusted and humiliated by Ada’s disfigured foot that she doesn’t want anyone to see her.
Children are starting to be sent away to live in the countryside temporarily to keep them safe. Jamie is going, but Ada’s mom says she won’t be going because no one would want her… that nice people wouldn’t want to look at her foot. I love when Ada responds, “I could stay with nasty people…. wouldn’t be any different than living here.” What a spunky, brave, and awesome little girl! I absolutely love her character. Jamie and Ada decide to leave together the very next day.
“It had been awful, but I hadn’t quit. I had persisted. In battle I had won.”
All the kids are lined up at the train station in a sort of orphan train adoption process. No one wants them, but they are finally whisked away to stay with Susan Smith. She doesn’t particularly want them either, but it’s just that she doesn’t know what to do with them.
Ada keeps reminding herself that Susan isn’t nice, but she actually is very nice. She allows Ada to go outside and be a normal kid. They have plenty to eat, clothed well, and loved like they never knew was possible. And from there her adventure begins! Ada learns to walk, learns how to read, and learns how to ride a pony she falls in love with. Her growth is so heart-warming!
“Then I did what I should have done to start with. I taught myself to walk.”
Sometimes a book proves so breathtakingly beautiful and poignant that words fail; that would be The War That Saved My Life. Author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has crafted an unforgettable coming-of-age novel that launches at the cusp of the beginning of the Second World War.