Monday, September 17, 2018
"The War That Saved My Life" and "The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ten-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 little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
I have read quite a few books that take place during the World War II era, but not quite like The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won. Ada was born with a club foot and because of it, has never been allowed to leave her home. She and her brother Jamie live with their often absent and abusive mother. While Jamie is allowed to leave their apartment, neither child has lived the life that a child should. When Jamie is sent away from London, for his safety because of the war, Ada sneaks away to be with him. She has no idea that this is going to be the best decision she has ever made and that she will finally be allowed to live. Ada and Jamie are placed with a woman named Susan. All three have a lot to learn about living with one another and allowing other people to help them, but it ends up being the best situation for everyone. The War I Finally Won picks up right where the first book left off (no spoilers) and continues to focus on Ada's self growth throughout the war.
Though set during World War II, the plot does not center around it. Naturally, it is discussed and the characters are often deeply effected by it, but the war is not the focus of the novels. Instead we get to see how Ada learns about a world she has never been allowed to experience and she how she grows. We get to see how she improves her life and the lives of those around her. We also get to see Jamie grow. Reading this book as an adult, I found this book fascinating, but heart breaking. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley touches on some very mature topics, such as Ada's abuse and details with the war. I'm not certain if I would have appreciated this book had a I read it as a child. There are times where the plot moved somewhat slow. Because I like Bradley's writing, it wasn't a struggle to continue reading, but this also makes me wonder if the books would appeal to younger readers. I did enjoy that the novel includes many of the aspects of what actions the characters took to help the war effort. I personally find these details in books interesting. Overall, I recommend giving this book a try, but don't be surprised if you find it's not quite your cup of tea.