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Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE - Finding Hope Amid Hardship

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@ashley_dicksonellison)

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's The War that Saved My Life Book Cover

Are you interested in a brand new take on World War II and its impact on children? Be sure to check out Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's The War That Saved My Life ( |, which focuses on Ada, a girl of about ten who does not even know her own birthday, and her younger brother Jamie.

As the story opens, we meet Ada as WWII approaches London. Ada is trapped at home, forbidden by their mother to leave their tiny apartment because of her twisted foot. Ada knows very little about the outside world because of her captivity and her mother's abusive treatment, but after her beloved little brother starts going to school, she decides to teach herself to walk despite the pain it causes her.

When Jamie comes home from school with news that all of the children of London are being evacuated to rural areas for their safety, Ada decides she and her brother must escape their home to go with the rest of the children.

Upon arrival, Ada and Jamie are placed in the care of Susan Smith, a grieving and reclusive woman living alone after the death of her partner Becky. Despite hesitating to take the children at first, Susan immediately begins providing more care for them than they had ever received from their mother, and her determined, level-headed approach toward each problem profoundly changes the children's lives. Ada also develops a special bond with Butter, the pony who lives in the pasture and who has gone without much care since Becky's death.

With Susan, Ada and Jamie discover there are adults who are very different from their mother, and they settle into a relatively comfortable routine. But Jamie fiercely misses home, and Ada cannot allow herself to trust the new situation, fearful at all times that it will be taken away from her.

'I don't know what to say,' [Susan] said after a pause. 'I don't want to tell you a lie, and I don't know the truth.' It was maybe the most honest thing anyone had ever said to me.

As time passes, Ada very slowly learns to open herself up to the amazing opportunities surrounding her in her new life. From learning to ride to figuring out how to help with the war efforts, Ada changes and blossoms into a young woman full of courage and conviction. But the war looms, as does the specter of their mother whom Ada both expects and fears will eventually come to take them back to their dreadful home life.

I started this one because my daughter is reading it with her fourth grade class, and I wanted to read along, but I couldn't help but hurry ahead because I had to know what was going to happen! I listened on audio, and it's narrated by the brilliant Jayne Entwistle. I am in love with Ada and plan to read the sequel.

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