The War That Saved My Life
By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
There is a reason this book is #1 in the Amazon’s best seller within the Children’s Historical Fiction section. The book contains an exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War I. Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who takes the kids in.
I decided to read this book since my two tween/teen daughters had read it and loved it. Since I was between books I picked it up and was immediately sucked into this wonderful story. I found myself cheering Ada on as she faced obstacle after obstacle. Her determination as she encountered the world beyond her mother’s dirty, small and abusive home was heroic. Her ignorance and lack of experience with the “outside world” subjected her to great turmoil and protection all at the same time. Protection because in many cases she was unaware what certain words or things were yet she struggled to learn about new things even if it meant she had to allow herself to be vulnerable to those around her.
This book would work well as required reading for World War I for any middle school or high school student. I love learning about history from stories that aren’t in a traditional textbook. Readers are exposed to history in this book by learning about bomb shelters, war volunteers, soldiers and the risks they took as they engaged the Germans as well as spies and how the local people were asked to flush them out. The story puts the lens of the people of England on the reader and how their lives were affected by the war. Food rationing, bomb sirens and sending children to live with strangers outside of London’s city limits are all details the reader of this story is exposed to.
I loved this book and I am looking forward to reading the sequel: The War I Finally Won.