Title: The War That Saved My Life
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Genre: Historical Drama
Length: 316 pages
Summary: Ada’s club foot embarrasses her mother so much, that ten-year-old Ada has never left their one-bedroom London flat. It is 1939, a world war has just begun, and Ada is teaching herself to walk in secret. When Ada’s younger brother returns from school saying all the other children are being sent to the country for their safety, she suddenly sees a way out of her miserable existence…
“I stared at the paper. I said, “This isn’t reading. This is drawing.”
“Writing,” she corrected. “It’s like buttons and hems. You’ve got to learn those before you can sew on the machine. You’ve got to know your letters before you can read.”
I supposed so, but it was boring. When I said so she got up again and wrote something along the bottom of the paper. “What’s that?” I asked.
“‘Ada is a curmudgeon,’” she replied.
“Ada is a curmudgeon,” I copied at the end of my alphabet. It pleased me.
Why should you read this book?
Ugh. This book was so good! I have to go back and read it again to decipher what made it so compelling… I had a terrible time putting it down. In general, I dislike first person narratives. So many middle grade books are written from this perspective, and this book is no exception. However, the narrative never broke character. The narrator never used words or thought concepts that broke my suspension of disbelief. The historical details weave in and out of the story skillfully. Because Ada has been held captive in her home a la Rapunzel, we learn about the world outside along with her. We learn about horses and trains and taxis. We learn about the changing role of aristocracy. We learn about the importance of the RAF and how terrible their survival rate was. We experience panic attacks when the Germans start bombing.
This book targets middle grade readers, but as an adult, I hardly noticed.
Read this book for an effortless dip into a moment of history told through a unique perspective. A physically disabled, illiterate, but intelligent child. This book really makes you think about how to treat children who are different… How, with the right caretaker, a child can blossom.