Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Expected Publication May 16th 2016
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Nine year old Ada has never left her one room flat. 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 for Ada, and for Miss Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take in the two children. 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?
In the bustling streets of London, life goes on for nine year old Ada as she stares out of her apartment window, watching her Mam and five year old brother James. Ada sits behind her glass fortress, unable to leave for the fear of ridicule, her mother forbidding the young girl to be seen. Ada's mother is ashamed of her only daughter, stuck with a crippled child suffering from club foot. While James roams the neighbourhood, Ada is subjected to regular beatings, deliberately keep without food and in a cramped cupboard space to ensure her compliance. But beyond the British borders, a war is raging on their doorsteps. German soldiers are infiltrating European countries with the promise to leave England in ruins.
Schools have closed in anticipation and the call for children to be sent to the United Kingdom countryside has begun. James refuses to leave without Ada, their mother refusing to allow Ada the luxury of escaping the conflict which is expected to kill millions across Britain. Armed with her mother's shoes and a rationed snack, Ada and James escape for the train to Leeds, with the hope of sanctuary for all children.
With their matted hair and threadbare clothes, the children are forced upon local spinster Susan Smith. Susan doesn't want to care for the children and Ada in turn won't allow herself to trust Susan, who is only a temporary home until their mother sends for their return... If she sends for their return.
The War That Saved My Life was phenomenal. An incredibly emotional and poignant read about one girl and the life she believes she deserves. Her mothers emotional and physical abuse due to her malformation from birth, nine year old Ada survives on dinner scraps and caring for younger brother James. She crawls around her one room apartment, not daring to attempt to stand for the fear of another beating at the hands of her mother, keeping the young girl compliant by threatening to harm James. Through her mothers constant verbal abuse, Ada would never dare to hope for more. A life where she can feel the sun on her face beyond the glass window where she sits, and watches the bustling life in London pass her by.
My heart ached for Ada. A girl so young, yet has never truly known what it is to have been loved or felt cared for. Her mother was not only neglectful but horrifically abusive, often sending Ada to spend hours tucked away inside a small cupboard for simply existing. So when the opportunity arises for children to escape the city in the hope that they will never see the conflict of a Nazi Germany invasion, Ada begins to covertly teach herself to stand then walk, the two siblings running towards freedom.
At last I understood what I was fighting, and why. And Man had no idea how strong a fighter I'd become.
Susan lives alone, until two malnourished children and forced into her care in the small Leeds coastal town. Susan hasn't any idea how to raise two children, especially since her best friend had passed away leaving Susan barely taking car of herself. Although she never leaves the children wanting for anything, it's Ada who sees Susan as just another person who doesn't want her. But as the weeks pass and both Ada and James return to health, the siblings thrive under Susan's care and Ada begins to hope for more.
A remarkable young lady who's story left me breathless and stole my heart.
The Final Verdict
It was nothing short of exquisite. Ada's story although poignant, was filled with such a strength and determination, driven by the need to prove to her mother than she wasn't a disappointment and deserved to be loved. Just as Susan grew to love her. My goodness how I loved this book fiercely. This is a middle grade read that will appeal to a much wider audience and those who appreciate beautifully written fiction that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
This book is truly remarkable.