The War that Saved my Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ada is a young girl with the wit and strength of Anne of Green Gables. She’s born with a club foot during the second world war in Britain. Unfortunately, she can’t rely on the support of a loving mother. Ada’s mom unleashes a torrent of insults at her daughter on a daily basis. She is also physically abusive towards Ada, and locks her up in a cupboard when she’s mad. While Jamey, her younger brother, doesn’t endure the brunt of the mom’s wrath like Ada, the two children share an unbreakable bond that gets them through tough times. They are taken to a town along with other children to house them for safety as London becomes a prime target of Hitler’s invading army during the war. That’s where Ada and Jamey meet Susan, an affluent albeit lonely woman. Although she’s at first reluctant to take on the kids, their bond soon grows fierce throughout the worsening war. Ada meets Butter, a pony that she teaches herself to ride. She gets a pair of crutches that aid in her walking and give her the independence that she has longed for her whole life. We see Ada quickly grow into her own person. The bumps and tribulations along the way are all part and parcel of their transition into their new home, but soon this beloved sanctuary will be upturned as the neglectful mother returns, haunting Ada and Jamey’s life as much as the war itself.
Wow! I wasn’t expecting to like the book this much. I’m not typically into historical-fiction, but Ada is such an enthralling character that I was sucked right in.
The story is told in the first-person through Ada’s perspective. Her voice is so authentic that it felt like reading a diary entry. I respect Ada so much, not just because of what she goes through, but how she endures. Even though she’s born with a disability, which is even more limiting in that day and time, her intelligence and bravery make her formidable.
Her relationship to Susan and Jamey, even Butter the pony, add tremendous depth to the story. The plot is rich with meaningful relationships, and not-so meaningful ones that Ada must overcome.
I’d want to read this to any young woman I know. Ada stands among literary heroes like Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy and Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web.
I can’t recommend this book enough! You’ll fall in love with Ada.
Perfect for Fans of: Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate