Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The War That Saved My Life. Puffin Books: New York, 2015. ISBN 9780803740815.
Ada is ten years old and has never left her one room apartment because of her disfigured foot. When her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada sneaks out to join him to escape their cruel mother.
This book is truly fantastic. I loved every bit of it. It doesn’t focus much on historical details of WWII, but it does contain some events, such as London being bombed, and children being sent away to the country side.
“Leaving London,” Mam said, “on account of Hitler, and his bombs.” She looked up at Jamie, not me. “What they say is that the city’s going to be bombed, so all the kids ought to e sent to the country, out of harm’s way. I hadn’t decided whether to send you. Suppose I might. Cheaper, one less mouth to feed.” (pg. 14)
What resonates the most with readers is the sheer strength, determination, and will of Ada Smith. She is bold and daring, and though she struggles with severe anxiety from the abuse she’s suffered, she doesn’t ever give up.
“The second day my good foot and leg hurt too. It was hard to straighten my legs. I had bruises on my knees from falling, and the sores on my bad foot hadn’t healed. The second day all I did was stand, holding the chair. I stood while I looked out my window. I practiced moving my weight from one foot to the other. Then I lay down on the bed and sobbed from the hurt and from exhaustion.” (pg. 10)
“Jamie looked at me in amazement. “I’ve got to take them,” I whispered. “Otherwise people’ll see my foot.”
He said, “You’re standing. You’re walking.” (pg. 16)
She also has a pretty good sense of sass that readers will enjoy.
“Course not. They’re sending kids to live with nice people. Who’d want you? Nobody, that’s who. Nice people don’t want to look at that foot.”
“I could stay with nasty people,” I said. “Wouldn’t be any different than living here.”
The book is very beautifully written and leaves you with a feeling of hope and strength.
“And Mam had no idea how strong a fighter I’d become.” (pg. 299)
From Publishers Weekly:
“Proving that her courage and compassion carry far more power than her disability, Ada earns self-respect, emerges a hero, and learns the meaning of home.”
From Kirkus Review:
“Ada’s voice is brisk and honest; her dawning realizations are made all the more poignant for their simplicity. . . . Things come to an explosive head, metaphorically and literally. Ignorance and abuse are brought to light, as are the healing powers of care, respect and love. Set against a backdrop of war and sacrifice, Ada’s personal fight for freedom and ultimate triumph are cause for celebration.”
From School Library Journal:
“There is much to like here—Ada’s engaging voice, the vivid setting, the humor, the heartbreak, but most of all the tenacious will to survive.”
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2015
Kirkus Best Books of 2015
Other books by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley:
Jefferson’s Sons ISBN 9780803734999
The Lacemaker and the Princess ISBN 9781416919209
For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy ISBN 9780440418313
Wonder by R.J. Palacio ISBN 9780375869020
I’ll Be Seeing You by Lurlene McDaniel ISBN
Discussion: How can we be more inclusive for those who have disabilities?