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The War that Saved My Life

February 13, 2017

the_war_that_saved_my_life-coverBy Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Published 2015

316 pages

Synopsis: A 10 year old girl named Ada was born with a twisted foot and because her mother is ashamed of her deformity, she abuses and neglects Ada and never allows her to leave their tiny apartment in 1939 London. Ada hears that most of the children are being sent to the countryside to escape the anticipated bombings. Though her mother forbids it, Ada is determined to be among those children. She secretly, painfully, teaches herself to walk and on the day the train full of kids is scheduled to leave, she and her brother wake early and make the painful trip to the station. When they arrive in the countryside, no one will take them because, as Ada and her brother have only now begun to realize, they are much dirtier, shabbier, and weaker-looking than all the other kids due to their mother’s extreme neglect. Ada had never seen herself in a mirror and is shocked to discover that “the nastiest girl I had ever seen” was in fact her own reflection.

Finally they are taken in by a reluctant Mrs. Smith who, despite dealing with her own sorrows, surprises herself by being a good guardian. The children thrive under her care: for the first time in their lives they are bathed, go to a doctor, wear clean clothes, sleep in a bed with sheets and pillows, eat healthy meals, and best of all for Ada, play outside as much as they want. Eventually, their mother locates them and brings them back to London because she doesn’t want to have to pay for someone else to take care of them. But Ada is determined to go back to Mrs. Smith, whom she considers to be her real mother.

Review: I only write reviews for books that I really think people should read or I really think they should avoid. I’m reviewing this book because you need to read this. There are dozens of books on many perspectives of World War II; but none that I can think of that point out something positive that happened as a result of that horrible war. In this case, a young girl’s life takes a dramatic turn for the better as a direct result of the war. And even though this is by no means a thriller or a suspense novel, it is still a page-turner! I was immediately drawn to this determined young girl and because I wanted her to overcome her terrible surroundings, I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to find out what happens to her.

To me, in order for a story to be successful, it is extremely important that the main character undergoes some type of change; if things remain the same at the end of a book as they do at the beginning, there is no point to the story. In this book, Ada changes in many ways. She is cleaned and cared for, she learns to read and write, she finds her first real friends in a neighborhood girl and a yellow pony. Most importantly, she changes the way she sees herself. For her whole life she has been told she is rubbish and, not knowing better, she fully believes it. But when she is treated as though she has some value, she comes to have confidence and self-esteem. It’s wonderful to witness. It reminded me of Eliza Doolittle’s transformation in that it was both in her outward appearance but also in her own mind. This was a wonderful book.

Rating: 5 boots!

Recommendation: Perfect for kids age 9 to 12 and anyone who loves books in which characters undergo a major transformation.

From → Book Treks

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