The War that Saved My Life
A Wall Street Journal's Best Children's Book of 2015An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.   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 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 of 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?   This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

The War that Saved My Life Details

TitleThe War that Saved My Life
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 8th, 2015
PublisherDial Books
ISBN0803740816
ISBN-139780803740815
Number of pages316 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Childrens, Middle Grade, Historical, Fiction, Young Adult, War

The War that Saved My Life Review

  • Stephanie
    December 16, 2016
    Heart-wrenching middle-school historical fiction works for adults too! The War that Saved My Life is set in England in 1939 - during World War II. Parents are evacuating their kids from London to the country -- so that they avoid the bombings. In the country, families are opening their homes to the evacuees. Ten-year old Ada has never left her one-room home in London. Her mother is both physically and psychologically abusive and won't let her leave the apartment because of her club foot. Ada do Heart-wrenching middle-school historical fiction works for adults too! The War that Saved My Life is set in England in 1939 - during World War II. Parents are evacuating their kids from London to the country -- so that they avoid the bombings. In the country, families are opening their homes to the evacuees. Ten-year old Ada has never left her one-room home in London. Her mother is both physically and psychologically abusive and won't let her leave the apartment because of her club foot. Ada doesn't walk (she crawls) and she spends her days cooking (what little food there is) and caring for her younger brother, Jamie as her mother is rarely home.As the threat of bombing comes to London, Ada's mother isn't sure if she will send Jamie to the countryside, but does not plan to send Ada. She tells Ada that nobody will want to take care of her, with her crippled foot. Ada spends the summer teaching herself how to walk and has the gumption to leave with Jamie (having never stepped outside of her home), without letting their mother know.When they arrive in the country, nobody wants Ada and Jamie, so they are picked last by a woman named Susan Smith who lives alone. Susan doesn't think she's ready to take care of kids, but she feeds them, buys them clothes, makes them bathe, fits Ada with crutches, and brings her to the doctor.“But what do I do with them?" Miss Smith said "I've never been around children." "Feed them, bathe them, make sure they get plenty of sleep," the doctor said. "They're no more difficult than puppies, really." He grinned.” I recommend this emotionally charged book to readers of historical fiction - both young and old. It's a great story that was both a 2016 Newbery Honor Book and a nominee in the 2015 GRCA in the Middle School and Children's category. Overall, it's a wonderfully crafted tale that will make it to my top reads of the year list for 2016.
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  • Betsy
    January 18, 2015
    As a child I was what one might call a selective reader. Selective in that I studiously avoided any and all works of fiction that might conceivably be considered “depressing”. Bridge to Terabithia? I’ll have none please. Island of the Blue Dolphins? Pass. Jacob Have I Loved? Not in this lifetime. Lord only knows what caused a book to be labeled “depressing” in my eyes before I’d even read it. I think I went by covers alone. Books picturing kids staring out into the vast nothingness of the univer As a child I was what one might call a selective reader. Selective in that I studiously avoided any and all works of fiction that might conceivably be considered “depressing”. Bridge to Terabithia? I’ll have none please. Island of the Blue Dolphins? Pass. Jacob Have I Loved? Not in this lifetime. Lord only knows what caused a book to be labeled “depressing” in my eyes before I’d even read it. I think I went by covers alone. Books picturing kids staring out into the vast nothingness of the universe were of little use to me. Happily I got over this phase and eventually was able to go back to those books I had avoided to better see what I had missed. Still, that 10-year-old self is always with me and I confer with her when I’m reading new releases. So when I read The War That Saved My Life I had to explain to her, at length, that in spite of the premise, cover (again with the kids staring out into nothingness), and time period this isn’t the bleak stretch of depressingness it might appear to be. Enormously satisfying and fun to read, Bradley takes a work of historical fiction and gives the whole premise of WWII evacuees a kick in the pants. Ada is ten and as far as she can tell she’s never been outdoors. Never felt the sun on her face. Never seen grass. Born with a twisted foot her mother considers her an abomination and her own personal shame. So when the chance comes for Ada to join her fellow child evacuees, including her little brother Jamie, out of the city during WWII she leaps at the chance. Escaping to the English countryside, the two are foisted upon a woman named Susan who declares herself to be “not nice” from the start. Under her care the siblings grow and change. Ada discovers Susan’s pony and is determined from the get-go to ride it. And as the war progresses and things grow dire, she finds that the most dangerous thing isn’t the bombs or the war itself. It’s hope. And it’s got her number.I may have mentioned it before, but the word that kept coming to mind as I read this book was “satisfying”. There’s something enormously rewarding about this title. I think a lot of the credit rests on the very premise. When a deserving kid receives deserving gifts, it releases all kinds of pleasant endorphins in the brain of he reader. It feels like justice, multiple times over. We’re sympathetic to Ava from the start, but I don’t know that I started to really like her until she had to grapple with the enormity of Susan’s sharp-edged kindness. As an author, Bradley has the unenviable job of making a character like Ada realistic, suffering real post-traumatic stress in the midst of a war, and then in time realistically stronger. This isn’t merely a story where the main character has to learn and grow and change. She has this enormous task of making Ava strong in every possible way after a lifetime of systematic, often horrific, abuse. And she has to do so realistically. No deus ex machina. No sudden conversion out of the blue. That she pulls it off is astounding. Honestly it made me want to reread the book several times over, if only to figure out how she managed to display Ada’s anger and shock in the face of kindness with such aplomb. For me, it was the little lines that conveyed it best. Sentences like the one Ada says after the first birthday she has ever celebrated: “I had so much. I felt so sad.” It’s not a flashy thing to say. Just true.You can see the appeal of writing characters like Ada and Jamie. Kids who have so little experience with the wider world that they don’t know a church from a bank or vice versa. The danger with having a character ignorant in this way is that they’ll only serve to annoy the reader. Or, perhaps worse, their inability to comprehend simple everyday objects and ideas will strike readers as funny or something to be mocked. Here, Bradley has some advantages over other books that might utilize this technique. For one thing, by placing this book in the past Ada is able to explain to child readers historical facts without stating facts that would be obvious to her or resorting to long bouts of exposition. By the same token, child readers can also pity Ada for not understanding stuff that they already do (banks, church, etc.). Ms. Bradley has written on her blog that, “I don't write in dialect, for several reasons, but I try to write dialogue in a way that suggests dialect.” American born (Indiana, to be specific) she has set her novel in historical England (Kent) where any number of accents might be on display. She could have peppered the book with words that tried to replicate the sounds of Ada’s London accent or Susan’s Oxford educated one. Instead, Ms. Bradley is cleverer than that. As she says, she merely suggests dialect. One of the characters, a Mr. Grimes, says things like “Aye” and ends his sentences with words like “like”. But it doesn’t feel forced or fake. Just mere hints of an accent that would allow a reader to pick it up or ignore it, however they preferred. Basically what we have here is Anne of Green Gables without quite so much whimsy. And in spite of the presence of a pony, this is not a cutesy pie book. Instead, it’s a story about a girl who fights like a demon against hope. She fights it with tooth and claw and nail and just about any weapon she can find. If her life has taught her anything it’s that hope can destroy you faster than abuse. In this light Susan’s kindness is a danger unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. Ms. Bradley does a stellar job of bringing to life this struggle in Ada and in inflaming a similar struggle in the hearts of her young readers. You root for Ada. You want her to be happy. Yet, at the same time, you don’t want your heart to be broken any more than Ada does. Do you hope for her future then? You do. Because this is a children’s book and hope, in whatever form it ultimately takes, is the name of the game. Ms. Bradley understands that and in The War That Saved My Life she manages to concoct a real delight out of a story that in less capable hands would have been a painful read. This book I would hand to my depression-averse younger self. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s one-of-a-kind. For ages 9-12
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  • Lola Reviewer
    March 26, 2017
    I know it seems like I’ve been tremendously lucky lately, what with all the four-star-ratings I’ve been giving, but it’s only because—and I’ve done this for the whole month of March—anytime a book bores me, I put it aside and never get back to it. Good, bad? Remains to be seen. That being said, THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE was extraordinary and didn’t bore me one bit. No wonder it won so many awards. It’s a refreshing middle grade historical fiction book that deserves to be read by adults as well. I know it seems like I’ve been tremendously lucky lately, what with all the four-star-ratings I’ve been giving, but it’s only because—and I’ve done this for the whole month of March—anytime a book bores me, I put it aside and never get back to it. Good, bad? Remains to be seen. That being said, THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE was extraordinary and didn’t bore me one bit. No wonder it won so many awards. It’s a refreshing middle grade historical fiction book that deserves to be read by adults as well. It’s such a wonderful book that calls to your emotional side. I used the word ‘‘refreshing’’ to describe it above because, although many historical books describe the events of World War II, not many look at children evacuees. Indeed, Ada and Jamie flee from London to escape from the predicted German attacks. They have to leave their abusive mother to do so, but for Ada that isn’t going to be an action she will ever regret. The woman who welcomes them—quite begrudgingly—into their house will make them understand what being cared for truly means. Although the backdrop is a terrified England, the war is never the main point of the story, even if the title says otherwise. It’s true that the war saves Ada’s life, in a way, but the main focus of this story is the interactions between Ada, Jamie and their new guardian as well as Ada’s confidence and freedom growth. Once afraid of her monstrous mother, Ada will learn to calm the fear that has grown inside her for so many years. UNFORGETTABLE. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Natalie Claire
    September 15, 2015
    I am a 10 year old girl and I read this for school. I loved it so much and I hope there is a sequel. If there is another book I will definitely read it and I would recommend this book to everyone that likes books about not giving up!!! Happy reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rating: one million stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I am a 10 year old girl and I read this for school. I loved it so much and I hope there is a sequel. If there is another book I will definitely read it and I would recommend this book to everyone that likes books about not giving up!!! Happy reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rating: one million stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    June 4, 2016
    Awww, this is such a cute heartwarming WWII story! My cold dead heart warmed like a whole 3 degrees and that is amazing. I loved the visual writing and the copious amounts of scones (!!!) and the adorable protagonist, Ada. British books though. Omg. They are nice. My only slightly sad face goes to the fact that it was really very slow. Would 9-year-old-me have liked this??? Eh. I honestly think I would've been bored. BUT LET'S HAVE A LIKES VS DISLIKES LIST SHALL WE????(Yes, we shall.)L I K E S:• Awww, this is such a cute heartwarming WWII story! My cold dead heart warmed like a whole 3 degrees and that is amazing. I loved the visual writing and the copious amounts of scones (!!!) and the adorable protagonist, Ada. British books though. Omg. They are nice. My only slightly sad face goes to the fact that it was really very slow. Would 9-year-old-me have liked this??? Eh. I honestly think I would've been bored. BUT LET'S HAVE A LIKES VS DISLIKES LIST SHALL WE????(Yes, we shall.)L I K E S:• Ada and her little brother Jamie have been horribly abused by their mother...and I think the representation of PTSD from that was spot on. The repercussions of being unwanted your whole life? The flinching away? The meltdowns? MY HEART BROKE LIKE 9 TIMES. It was well represented.• Ada also has a clubbed foot...and I've never read that before! She spent the first 9 years of her life crawling in the dirt because her mother was disgusted and wouldn't help her. SHE WAS SO BRAVE AND STRONG. Also kind of bitter and angry. This could've turned her into an unlikeable character? BUT IT DID NOT. I 100% loved and rooted for Ada.• And of course I loved Miss Susan Smith. (Despite actually knowing someone who's name is Susan Smith so...that was weird. 0_0) She was really snappy and crotchity but A BIG SOFT PIECE OF PUDDING ON THE INSIDE.• There were so many heartwarming moments. I got all squishy when Ada started to learn to love.• TEA & SCONES, LUV. Not even ashamed. I love books with food.D I S L I K E S:• It wasn't particularly original. I read a ton of WWII books in my Youthful Days (like, um, 10 years ago but whatever) and this honestly just followed the same formulas. (Ex: Goodnight Mister Tom Fireweed The Railway Children, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Vinnie's War.)• And it was definitely slow paced. The middle bordered on boring, honestly, and while I liked the aesthetics of the country lifestyle and the kids learning to be loved and all the horses and scones...not much actually happened apart from that??? I know it's not meant to be an "action story" but it didn't have very much plot.• The ending also felt very rushed. Which made the pacing feel off, because the middle took forever and then when actual exciting things happened at the end (bombs! spies!) it just sped through them? #NotHappySusan...All in all: it was a delightful WWII story with a totally winning protagonist, but it's not going to stick with me for long. If you haven't read much WWII stories, then this is a good one to try! But if you've swallowed a mountain of them, you'll probably find yourself nodding off in the middle. It's middle-grade, too, so definitely for ages 9+ I'd imagine. There is parental abuse at the beginning, but it's not graphic, and there's death at the end -- BUT HELLO THIS IS HISTORY. (And that's also not graphic.) So there we go. I'm off to crave tea and scones. Thanks for warming my old soul, little book.
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  • Barb Middleton
    May 5, 2015
    Call me dumpling, if this isn't a Newbery contender for 2016. The historical details, character development, tight plot, and rich layered themes make this firecracker sizzle. Ten-year-old Ada has a clubfoot and is kept locked in her family's one bedroom apartment while her six-year-old brother, Jaimie, roams free in London, England. Mam hits her two children and punishes Ada by locking her in the cabinet under the sink. World War II is about to happen, and parents are sending children to the cou Call me dumpling, if this isn't a Newbery contender for 2016. The historical details, character development, tight plot, and rich layered themes make this firecracker sizzle. Ten-year-old Ada has a clubfoot and is kept locked in her family's one bedroom apartment while her six-year-old brother, Jaimie, roams free in London, England. Mam hits her two children and punishes Ada by locking her in the cabinet under the sink. World War II is about to happen, and parents are sending children to the countryside for safety.Mam plans to send Jaimie, but not Ada, "Nice people don't want to look at that foot." Ada sneaks off with Jaimie to join other evacuees on a train to Kent. Expecting 70 children but receiving 200, the children line up in a building near the station and are chosen by families, but no one picks Ada and Jaimie. The "iron-faced" woman organizing the placement takes the two to a house where the owner, Susan Smith, says she doesn't want any children to care for. The reason for Susan's reluctance is slowly revealed and though she claims she is not nice, her actions show the opposite. She suffers with bouts of depression and the three form a family bond that helps them all move forward in life and deal with suffering.The ironic title of this book refers not only to the physical war, but the internal and daily battles faced by the characters. War is about death and destruction, not saving; however, there are times when "some things are worth fighting for." WWII meant fighting against loss of freedoms, lands, and extreme prejudices. Most people didn't want to go to war and avoided it until it became necessary. For Ada, "There are all kinds of wars." She talks about her war with Jaimie whom she has raised instead of their negligent mother. She talks about her war with her mother who hits her in order to shame and control her. She sees Susan war with people who act prejudiced toward her disability. She sees Jamie war with his fears. She sees Susan war with her grief. The war theme builds like a wet snowball rolling down a snowy hill getting bigger and bigger until it rests at the bottom doubled in size. The author keeps building on various themes and advances the plot pointing to those themes. This is just one element in Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's impressive writing that makes this book unforgettable.*spoiler* I want to use this book for book club next fall so the following is more detailed than usual so I'll remember my first impressions.Daily life is filled with peace and joy and battles and wars. Ada's life is no different except her conditions are more extreme. She battles the prejudice of her mother and others over her clubfoot. She battles hunger on a daily basis. She battles her feelings. She battles being touched by another human. She battles looking forward to the future with hope. She battles being illiterate. Ada is tired of being ignorant of the world and the words in it. She's been locked up in a room and never let outside. On the train, she asks Jaimie what the green stuff is out the window. Even the word, "grass," is not in her vocabulary. Like someone trying to learn a foreign language, words exhaust her and it is no surprise that she resists Susan's efforts to educate her. It is not until she makes friends with Maggie that she is motivated to read and write.Ada is a survivor, courageous, and persistent. Horses respond to her and when she decides to make her pony jump a wall, she just about kills herself in the effort. She battles back no matter how many times life throws her off a horse. Her physical hunger is nothing compared to her emotional hunger for love, hope, and freedom. When she finds it with Susan, it scares her to heck because she knows their set-up is temporary until the war is over. Ada shuts Susan out to protect herself, but Susan is just as strong-willed as her and she jumps her walls. Jaimie is left-handed and being abused by the teacher. Susan figures it out and rescues him showing she is willing to fight for the two children. The relationship changes from caring to loving - the three are evolving into a family with all its ups and downs. At the end, when Susan doesn't battle for them, it is no surprise that she changes her mind and tracks down Mam and the kids. At the end when Susan tells Ada and Jaimie that they saved her life, the story has come full circle.Both children have fears. Jaimie has tantrums and wets the bed while Susan is afraid of being hit and sent away. When Jaimie finds a mean cat that is full of fleas and matted hair, he names it Bovril after a nasty drink that Susan makes the children take each night for their health. The cat, Bovril, is loved and cared for by Jaimie. He stops wetting the bed as soon as they keep the cat and after he washes the mangy creature he brings it down wrapped in Susan's "best towel." The parallel with the children is striking for Susan took in two bedraggled children that no one else wanted and gave them the best of herself and home. When Jaimie tells Susan that "nice people" hate Ada's clubfoot, she says they are in luck because she is not a nice person. Ada tries to convince herself of this, but knows it isn't true. "She was not a nice person, but she cleaned up the floor. She was not a nice person, but she bandaged my foot in a white piece of cloth, and gave us two of her own clean shirts to wear." Ada reminds herself all the time that Susan is not a nice person so that she won't become attached to her. She knows that the situation is temporary and she copes by detaching herself.Another overarching theme besides battles and wars, is the difference between lying and liars. Susan distinguishes "lying" as a way of self-preservation or protecting oneself while "liars" do it to make themselves important. Ada lies about her last name when she meets Susan. Later, when Ada tells the truth, it is easy to see why Susan doesn't believe her about riding Maggie's horse. The two learn to be honest and trust each other as they learn to understand each other. The author shows but does not tell these differences and much of it must be inferred by the reader. As the story progresses, Ada chooses to not lie about the spy, nor does she lie with her mother. She slowly turns from lies to the truth and it allows her to move forward emotionally and become a stronger person. Mam is a liar that bullies Ada to make herself feel important. Mam says that fixing Ada's foot is a lie, even though Ada knows it is possible. By not fixing Ada's foot, Mam feels superior. Susan lies about Divinity school to attack the school teacher's prejudice and abuse of Jaimie. Her lie was protective. Stephen lies to the Colonel because he knows that the Colonel needs full-time care. His lie was to help the Colonel not feel useless in the war. Lies are a big part of the author's character development and Ada learns through lies how she can change her life into one of truth and hope for a better life. Ada breaks Susan's sewing machine and is terrified she'll be sent back to London. Ada's terror is not normal and shows how traumatized she has been by her mother's abuse. She also pushes aside her emotions and doesn't address them. She calls it going inside her head. Her psychological and physical abuse make her difficult to handle and Susan doesn't always get it right. Both Ada and Susan are persistent, strong-willed, and stubborn. Susan can't tell Ada to read and write but tricks her into it. Later when Ada realizes that Maggie was mad at her for not writing, she is motivated to learn. Susan tricks Ada into doing other things she refuses to do making for some funny moments. Susan's dry humor helps balance the characters heavy issues. The two females learn from each other. When Ada decides to make a present in her room, Susan says she has to spend equal the time with her that she spends alone. She's grown to like her company and Ada unknowingly is helping Susan deal with her grief. Ada goads Susan into volunteering for the war. Susan tries to get Ada to accept herself and not be ashamed of her foot, "your foot's a long way from your brain." When Ada later uses it against the prejudiced officer, Susan's influence is apparent as Ada finds the courage to stand-up for herself and see her self-worth.Susan's read alouds show how the kids are relating the characters in the stories to their lives. Ada feels that she is like "Alice in Wonderland" who has fallen down the rabbit hole into a strange new world. Jaimie feels like he is on an adventure like the "Swiss Family Robinson." Literature engages and empowers young readers into understanding themselves and the world around them. Ada is learning empathy and through narrative fiction she can get inside a fictional character's mind to understand his or her feelings, motivations, and emotions. This safe place in the fictional world lets her take risks and learn through characters triumphs and mistakes, then relate it to herself with empathy, and not have any real-world consequences. This is the power of reading.I do so like books that answer questions right away and then take it one step further in an unexpected way. Brandon Sanderson does this and so does Bradley. For instance, when Ada keeps refusing to go to tea with the Colonel, I thought she was embarrassed by her clubfoot and I know that she feels awkward socially. Later she confesses to Stephen that she is afraid of not doing the right thing. Perhaps a better example is when Susan debates the teacher on her superstition of left-handedness. It could have been left with just the dialogue, but she explains the root of the superstition in the Bible. The author digs deeper into the psyche of characters bringing out their complexities that engages me more as a reader.Bradley has already established herself as an author that pays attention to historical details. Read "Jefferson's Sons" and you will see what I mean. Here, she goes into details regarding the war and maintaining stables and horses. The women sewing blackout curtains and building a rickety, smelly bomb shelter are just two of many examples. Others include the newsreels, that disseminated information to the public before the movies, to the propaganda posters littering the city. The Germans circled the island and sunk ships trying to import or export goods laying siege to England and affecting the food supply. Another fact that parents evacuated their children from London and then took them back endangering their lives when the London Blitz occurred was one I didn't know about. The historical details oftentimes tie in with larger themes, especially the posters such as "Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might." Not only is England's freedom in peril, but Ada and Jaimie's freedom living with Susan is in peril when their Mam takes them back.The psychological progression of Ada wanting Susan to not give her things shows Ada clinging to the emotional detachment as a coping mechanism from being abused. Ada rejects Susan's help over and over. Later while reading "Swiss Family Robinson" she thinks "I was tired of those idiots living on an island with everything they wanted." She doesn't want to be given things. Again, her attitude is about self-preservation. Ada has a meltdown when Susan makes her a velvet dress and calls her beautiful. She reveals "It was too much, all this emotion."She can't see herself as anything but ugly. She doesn't want to love Susan and hope for a better life. Worse, she doesn't want to love herself.When the war comes to their town and Susan and Ada help the Dunkirk soldiers, Ada learns that she is useful. She also recognizes that she is winning battles against her fears and becoming stronger. "There was a Before Dunkirk version of me and an After Dunkirk version. The After Dunkirk version was stronger, less afraid." Later, when she sees a spy and reports it, she is strong enough to overcome the prejudiced officer that tries to dismiss her. When she stands up to her mother and admits the horrible truth about how she does not care about her or Jaimie, she shows her self-acceptance not only of herself but her mother. When she is lauded a hero for capturing a spy, she sees herself, "As if I'd been born with two strong feet." This is a long way from the ashamed girl that first showed up on Susan's doorstep.Susan's depression comes from the death of her partner, Becky. The family has disowned Susan, especially her clergyman father, and no one talks about it. Historically, it would have not been discussed openly and if the author had made it a subplot it would have put the book in the young adult section. Children's interest in sexuality begins more in middle school than elementary and had the author emphasized it, the novel would have missed its audience. As is, some readers will miss the implied relationship, while others will notice it hovering in the background and affecting Susan. This choice by the author lets the focus remain on the characters, and it would have detracted from the main themes. Decide for yourself. You really don't want to miss this one.
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  • Theresa
    May 6, 2016
    Not bad for a middle grade novel. Not bad at all. A beautiful and heartwarming story about overcoming emotional and physical abuse, and learning to accept unconditional love from yourself and from others. Takes place during World War II in London. This novel doesn't pull punches or try to sugar coat the harshness of life. "The War That Saved My Life" will tug at your heartstrings, and reaffirm your faith in the kindness of strangers. Enjoy!
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  • The Library Lady
    November 10, 2014
    Okay, this has been done before and has lots of stock characters--the disabled/abused child who gets away from a bad situation and blossoms, the adorable younger sibling who needs to be protected, the unlikely guardian who doesn't want them, but learns to love them.Yet it's fresh and new and I stayed up till well past my bedtime reading it, and I DIDN'T WANT IT TO BE OVER. In other words, it's really, really good and I thank Edelweiss for my digital ARC.
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  • Barbara A.
    November 26, 2014
    One of the finest middle school novels I've read in quite a while. We are treated to an intense and involving reading experience guided by a strong narrator/heroine in the person of evacuee Ada Smith. Bradley does a particularly wonderful job of integrating vivid historic detail and emotionally believable situations. The characterizations (Jamie, Susan, Margaret, Mr Grimes, Mam, etc.) are complex and well drawn. So much so that I began to long for a second novel about these people and their live One of the finest middle school novels I've read in quite a while. We are treated to an intense and involving reading experience guided by a strong narrator/heroine in the person of evacuee Ada Smith. Bradley does a particularly wonderful job of integrating vivid historic detail and emotionally believable situations. The characterizations (Jamie, Susan, Margaret, Mr Grimes, Mam, etc.) are complex and well drawn. So much so that I began to long for a second novel about these people and their lives as it became clear that this novel was drawing to an immensely satisfying close. This is a fine novel and reminiscent of another emotionally wrenching tale of another WWII evacuee--Goodnight Mister Tom. It has the bittersweet, British homefront intensity of Mrs. Miniver and some of the drama of Foyle's War. Put this #1 on your 2015 list of must reads.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 15, 2015
    I can't get over how much I loved the characters in this WWII English home front story. It was fascinating to me to read a book about one sibling being horribly abused by her mother while her younger sibling was treated fairly regularly. Ada seemed really realistic to me, brimming with emotions and occasionally volatile. Susan, their steadfast caretaker, was complicated, too, still mourning the loss of her "good friend", a woman named Becky whom she lived with. Ms. Baker shows how these characte I can't get over how much I loved the characters in this WWII English home front story. It was fascinating to me to read a book about one sibling being horribly abused by her mother while her younger sibling was treated fairly regularly. Ada seemed really realistic to me, brimming with emotions and occasionally volatile. Susan, their steadfast caretaker, was complicated, too, still mourning the loss of her "good friend", a woman named Becky whom she lived with. Ms. Baker shows how these characters grow and change during the time they're together, developing a relationship that turns out to be a lifesaver, despite it happening in the middle of a war. Highly recommended for readers who love characters they can root for or readers looking for solid historical fiction, particularly World War II stories.
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  • Paulo Ratz
    March 25, 2017
    Nossa........Nem sei por onde começar! Pelo menos eu já fiz um vídeo grandinho sobre esse livro onde eu consegui dizer muita coisa do que eu senti fazendo essa suficiente. Eu confesso pra vocês, sendo 100% sincero, mesmo tendo trabalho junto da Darkside para a divulgação desse livro, que eu terminei a leitura orfão. Eu queria que esse livro fosse maior! Eu conseguia enxergar esses personagens, a casa da Susan, os animais que ela descreve... eu conseguia entender as reações de todo mundo, e isso Nossa........Nem sei por onde começar! Pelo menos eu já fiz um vídeo grandinho sobre esse livro onde eu consegui dizer muita coisa do que eu senti fazendo essa suficiente. Eu confesso pra vocês, sendo 100% sincero, mesmo tendo trabalho junto da Darkside para a divulgação desse livro, que eu terminei a leitura orfão. Eu queria que esse livro fosse maior! Eu conseguia enxergar esses personagens, a casa da Susan, os animais que ela descreve... eu conseguia entender as reações de todo mundo, e isso me deixou tão dentro que eu não conseguia parar de ler. Inclusive, que leitura gostosa e rápida!A Ada, personagem principal do livro, é uma menina de 10 anos que sofreu quase tudo que uma criança poderia sofrer. Ela se torna uma demôniazinha orgulhosa, mas é tão natural. Fazer essa leitura pelo ponto de vista dela foi tão realista que nem sei.... eu só queria abraçar e brigar com ela o tempo todo! Eu recomendo fortemente esse livro, gente. Não to forçando a barra não. É muito fofo e triste ao mesmo tempo. Acho que você sai uma pessoa mais grata pelo que você já teve na vida.
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  • Amanda Snow
    March 4, 2015
    One of the best historical fiction books for this age range I've ever read (listened to). Narrator was fantastic, characters were perfectly done, and the pacing was on point. An incredible story of a brother and sister during WWII. Will make my Best Books of 2015 list for sure.
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  • Melina de Souza
    March 13, 2017
    Esse livro é daqueles que aperta o nosso coração, mas que mesmo assim não conseguimos parar de ler, sabe?Gravei um vídeo sobre ele: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KveYf...E fiz um post no blog: http://melinasouza.com/2017/03/22/a-g...A edição brasileira está maravilhosa *-*
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  • Raquel Moritz
    March 4, 2017
    É uma história linda, triste, cheia de inocência, descobertas e superações. Situada na Segunda Guerra Mundial, o livro é narrado pela Ada, uma garota que, aos dez anos, nunca tinha saído de casa porque a mãe a proibia. Com a chegada da Guerra, ela vê a oportunidade de fugir com o irmão e se livrar dos maus tratos. Um mundo completamente novo se abre pra ela, que agora precisa usar toda a força e a determinação pra conseguir se manter viva. Mais um da série "livros que deixam seu coração quentinh É uma história linda, triste, cheia de inocência, descobertas e superações. Situada na Segunda Guerra Mundial, o livro é narrado pela Ada, uma garota que, aos dez anos, nunca tinha saído de casa porque a mãe a proibia. Com a chegada da Guerra, ela vê a oportunidade de fugir com o irmão e se livrar dos maus tratos. Um mundo completamente novo se abre pra ela, que agora precisa usar toda a força e a determinação pra conseguir se manter viva. Mais um da série "livros que deixam seu coração quentinho". <3
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  • Melora
    February 27, 2016
    I feel like I really must be missing something with this one. Newbery Honor, great reviews, but to me it just felt like a story that's been done to death, with nothing really fresh. Neglected London child evacuated for safety to the country, placed with grouchy hermit, blooms and brings new joy and community integration to grouchy hermit. Good Night, Mr. Tom all over again. Only not nearly as well done. Our protagonist here, Ada, is not just horribly abused, but also crippled due to her mother's I feel like I really must be missing something with this one. Newbery Honor, great reviews, but to me it just felt like a story that's been done to death, with nothing really fresh. Neglected London child evacuated for safety to the country, placed with grouchy hermit, blooms and brings new joy and community integration to grouchy hermit. Good Night, Mr. Tom all over again. Only not nearly as well done. Our protagonist here, Ada, is not just horribly abused, but also crippled due to her mother's neglect, and she has a brother. The author's main emphasis is on how emotionally as well as physically damaged Ada is, and how difficult it is for her to trust in the kindness of her hostess (who, of course, is suffering from her own childhood traumas). It read like a textbook for aspiring social workers, focusing on the need for endless patience and kindness when dealing with abused children. Like I was back in the classes my husband and I had to take to be licensed as foster care parents. The children's behavioral issues were presented with painful accuracy – she nailed that part with frightening vividness – but a rundown on the challenges of caring for neglected children doesn't make for much of a story. The “magic” thing in this story that touches Ada and allows her to break free of her self-constructed prison is her love of horses. This could have worked, but her transformation from crippled child crawling across the floor to skilled horsewoman is practically instantaneous and utterly unconvincing. She goes from sitting on a pony who ambles slowly around his pasture to easily mounting a full size hunter and effortlessly putting him over a wall in a single scene. Actually, she learns to read and write with similar skill, once she sets her mind to it, but for some reason it was the instant riding and barn skills that struck me as most improbable. The author integrates details of life in England during WWII in a way that feels a bit as though she's working through a checklist – rationing, plane-spotting, Dunkirk evacuation – but this aspect wasn't badly done. The story picked up a little steam in the last fifty pages, with more action and the requisite heart-touching happy ending, but it still felt, to me, too much focused on “this is how a damaged child responds to things.” I'm giving this three stars, not because I “like” it, but because it is an adequate historical fiction story for the intended age group. But just adequate.
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  • Shannon Brown
    July 23, 2015
    This was just such an astonishingly clear-eyed and empathetic book about abuse and trauma and survival that I had to check that it really is for middle-grade readers. There are things I wish had had more detail or nuance, such as the class issues or what Ada's friend Stephen's very different experience meant to him, but those are tiny nits among a sea of praise.I loved the way the author showed the different ways the trauma of their life in London affected both Ada and her brother Jamie, and I l This was just such an astonishingly clear-eyed and empathetic book about abuse and trauma and survival that I had to check that it really is for middle-grade readers. There are things I wish had had more detail or nuance, such as the class issues or what Ada's friend Stephen's very different experience meant to him, but those are tiny nits among a sea of praise.I loved the way the author showed the different ways the trauma of their life in London affected both Ada and her brother Jamie, and I loved the way she set up this idyllic country life and then slowly dismantled it with the increasingly present war. I was impressed with ways in which she was able to show the astonishing bounds of both the children's neglect and their ignorance without ever being gratuitous or dwelling on the horrorsBut most of all I loved the relationships that blossomed between Susan and Ada and Susan and Jamie and Ada and the world. And I liked that she just left many things about Susan and her clearly lesbian relationship and what she thought her relationship with the village was just sort of be a bit of background detail. It seemed realistic that a ten-year-old traumatized girl would have those details sail over her head, but would still understand Susan's otherness. Also, bless a book aimed at preteens that doesn't sugarcoat the cruelty that can be part of a birth family, and doesn't suggest all relationships - blood or not - can or should be saved. I was so happy that it celebrated families of choice, even if it did end super abruptly.
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  • Text Publishing
    April 11, 2016
    The Wall Street Journal, New York Public Library and Publishers Weekly have all featured The War That Saved My Life on ‘best of’ lists and it’s not hard to see why.Heart-warming and disarming, The War That Saved My Life, is a must read. Nine-year-old Ada escapes from the suffocating control of her mother, and embarks on an exciting yet dangerous journey set against the background of the World War II. This charming book was number one on the New York Times bestseller’s list for middle grade child The Wall Street Journal, New York Public Library and Publishers Weekly have all featured The War That Saved My Life on ‘best of’ lists and it’s not hard to see why.Heart-warming and disarming, The War That Saved My Life, is a must read. Nine-year-old Ada escapes from the suffocating control of her mother, and embarks on an exciting yet dangerous journey set against the background of the World War II. This charming book was number one on the New York Times bestseller’s list for middle grade children and has received international rave reviews.There is much to like here—Ada’s engaging voice, the vivid setting, the humor, the heartbreak, but most of all the tenacious will to survive.School Library Journal A beautifully written and very moving book, bound to be an instant classic …A beautiful story of hope and family.BooktopiaAbsolutely breathtaking…An incredibly emotional and poignant read…[It] will stay with you long after the final page is turned. This book is truly remarkable.Diva Booknerd‘An inimitable, robust, yet lyrically written bildungsroman. Its gentle humour is poignant and heartwarming.’Australian‘Achingly lovely…Nuanced and emotionally acute, this vivid tale from the wartime home front will have readers ages 10-14 wincing at Ada’s stumbles and rejoicing to the point of tears in her victories.’Wall Street Journal‘Ada’s voice is brisk and honest; her dawning realizations are made all the more poignant for their simplicity… Things come to an explosive head, metaphorically and literally. Ignorance and abuse are brought to light, as are the healing powers of care, respect and love. Set against a backdrop of war and sacrifice, Ada’s personal fight for freedom and ultimate triumph are cause for celebration.’STARRED Review, Kirkus‘Proving that her courage and compassion carry far more power than her disability, Ada earns self-respect, emerges a hero, and learns the meaning of home.’STARRED Review, Publishers Weekly‘Absolutely breathtaking…An incredibly emotional and poignant read…[It] will stay with you long after the final page is turned. This book is truly remarkable.’iva Booknerd‘Very powerful…A wonderful and well written story of the internal and external struggles that we can all face.’Lamont Books‘Bradley presents this episode in Britain’s history in a form that young readers will appreciate, learn from and enjoy: a moral tale wrapped up in an adventure story…A moving and uplifting read.’BookMooch‘Worthy of all the awards it has won, this book is an uplifting read of one girl overcoming incredible odds. The reader is carried along by the story of Ada’s trials and triumphs…Beautifully written.’ReadPlus‘Bradley unfolds Ada’s world, so truncated and tortured, with deft skill…A compelling read.’Historical Novel Society‘Absolutely absorbing…A sad yet heart-warming story that will have children and adults captivated from the very beginning.’Bookish Manicurist‘Heartwarming…A delightful WWII story with a totally winning protagonist.’Paper Fury‘Comforting in its familiarity…Ada’s voice is honest and authentic and true…It’s a lovely little novel to curl up with on a rainy day, that took me back to the novels I read and loved as a child.’Steph Bowe‘Thrilling and lovely, heart-wrenching and funny, charming and readable and truly a book that you won’t want to put down! 5 stars.’Bookbag‘As sweet as treacle…Ada’s transformation from an angry young woman into a confident lady is imaginatively drawn.’Australian Women’s Weekly‘A story of courage and hope. Watching Ada’s transformation and seeing her relationship with Susan grow is a lovely journey.’Otago Daily Times‘A moving and sensitively written book which will give readers a new and enlightening perspective on the war and its effects on people.’Parents in Touch‘Heartwarming, realistic and ultimately moving…A brilliant read from start to finish, The War that Saved My Life explores themes of love, loss and hope and shows that sometimes the hardest battles are the ones fought within ourselves.’Gobblefunked‘A moving and captivating story’Readings, Best Middle Fiction Books of 2016Wall Street Journal, Best Children’s Books of 2015Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the YearAmazon, Best Books of the YearKirkus Reviews, Best Middle Grade Books of 2015The New York Public Library, 100 Books For Reading & Sharing Watch Kimberly Brubaker Bradley discuss the book here. 
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  • Liza Fireman
    May 16, 2016
    Amazing amazing amazing book! I had thought that it is going to be about WWII, but this is not the most important part of the story. It is a story about redemption, a story about learning to love, a story about how love looks like and feels like. Learning to love is sometime a very hard thing to do, and to fix after years of lack of it.Ada's mom is a terrible person, she hates her, and is ashamed about having a crippled daughter. She wants her to disappear, and in the meanwhile at least to lock Amazing amazing amazing book! I had thought that it is going to be about WWII, but this is not the most important part of the story. It is a story about redemption, a story about learning to love, a story about how love looks like and feels like. Learning to love is sometime a very hard thing to do, and to fix after years of lack of it.Ada's mom is a terrible person, she hates her, and is ashamed about having a crippled daughter. She wants her to disappear, and in the meanwhile at least to lock her away. Ada's clubfoot is the main thing about her, it defines her for her mom, and therefore also for herself. And then gets WWII.Ada learns to value herself, to love herself, and to be loved. She learns that she is smart, and brave, and capable. She learns that she is a lot more than a clubfoot. She learns that sometimes parents can disable a child more than physical disabilities do. She learns that her foot is a long way from her brain. And she is going to allow you too to love her, and care for her, and want a much better life for her, where she can thrive, succeed, and be the awesome loving person that she really is.Heads up, if your kid is sensitive, the humiliation and abuse at the beginning of this book, are going to make them cry, so read along with them at least the first part.One of the best books that I read for young readers (age 10 to 12 or so). 5 stars and more.
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  • Olivia Tiseth
    February 28, 2017
    This book had me almost in tears because of how awful this mother was. This book was so good in bringing out this characters past and how they effect her, it was one of the best books I've ever read. I loved the characters and how Ada was coming to understand things and how she was succeeding.
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  • Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
    April 12, 2016
    Absolutely breathtaking.The War That Saved My Life was phenomenal. An incredibly emotional and poignant read about one girl and the life she believes she deserves. Her mothers emotional and physical abuse due to her malformation from birth, nine year old Ada survives on dinner scraps and caring for younger brother James. She crawls around her one room apartment, not daring to attempt to stand for the fear of another beating at the hands of her mother, keeping the young girl compliant by threate Absolutely breathtaking.The War That Saved My Life was phenomenal. An incredibly emotional and poignant read about one girl and the life she believes she deserves. Her mothers emotional and physical abuse due to her malformation from birth, nine year old Ada survives on dinner scraps and caring for younger brother James. She crawls around her one room apartment, not daring to attempt to stand for the fear of another beating at the hands of her mother, keeping the young girl compliant by threatening to harm James. Through her mothers constant verbal abuse, Ada would never dare to hope for more. A life where she can feel the sun on her face beyond the glass window where she sits, and watches the bustling life in London pass her by.My heart ached for Ada. A girl so young, yet has never truly known what it is to have been loved or felt cared for. Her mother was not only neglectful but horrifically abusive, often sending Ada to spend hours tucked away inside a small cupboard for simply existing. So when the opportunity arises for children to escape the city in the hope that they will never see the conflict of a Nazi Germany invasion, Ada begins to covertly teach herself to stand then walk, the two siblings running towards freedom.At last I understood what I was fighting, and why. And Man had no idea how strong a fighter I'd become.Susan lives alone, until two malnourished children and forced into her care in the small Leeds coastal town. Susan hasn't any idea how to raise two children, especially since her best friend had passed away leaving Susan barely taking car of herself. Although she never leaves the children wanting for anything, it's Ada who sees Susan as just another person who doesn't want her. But as the weeks pass and both Ada and James return to health, the siblings thrive under Susan's care and Ada begins to hope for more. A remarkable young lady who's story left me breathless and stole my heart.It was nothing short of exquisite. Ada's story although poignant, was filled with such a strength and determination, driven by the need to prove to her mother than she wasn't a disappointment and deserved to be loved. Just as Susan grew to love her. My goodness how I loved this book fiercely. This is a middle grade read that will appeal to a much wider audience and those who appreciate beautifully written fiction that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.This book is truly remarkable.
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  • Chessa
    November 17, 2016
    I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying! OMG you guys. This book is so freaking good. Ada is a tween girl born with a club foot living in a flat in London with her (horrible!!!) mother and little brother Jamie. Because her mother is basically a monster, she's never left the flat. This changes when all the children from the city are sent to the country for the start of WWII. Ugh. It's so heartbreaking and beautiful. I've never seen child trauma portrayed so skillfully. I thought it would be a hard read to I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying! OMG you guys. This book is so freaking good. Ada is a tween girl born with a club foot living in a flat in London with her (horrible!!!) mother and little brother Jamie. Because her mother is basically a monster, she's never left the flat. This changes when all the children from the city are sent to the country for the start of WWII. Ugh. It's so heartbreaking and beautiful. I've never seen child trauma portrayed so skillfully. I thought it would be a hard read to get through, but it's such an easy read. Ada is such a great character, as is Susan. All the side characters are well-drawn as well. I so very much hope that there is a sequel!
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  • Haley Duncan
    August 26, 2016
    This book was one of the best books I've ever read. Nine-year old Ada has a twisted foot and she's never been outside her one room house because her mother is so ashamed of her. When world war 2 comes, all the children go someplace else to escape the war-and Ada sneaks out with them. Ada and her little brother Jamie fall into the hands of Susan. At first, no one seemed fond of each other until Ada learns to ride a pony, read and write, and gets the experience to explore the outside world. As Ada This book was one of the best books I've ever read. Nine-year old Ada has a twisted foot and she's never been outside her one room house because her mother is so ashamed of her. When world war 2 comes, all the children go someplace else to escape the war-and Ada sneaks out with them. Ada and her little brother Jamie fall into the hands of Susan. At first, no one seemed fond of each other until Ada learns to ride a pony, read and write, and gets the experience to explore the outside world. As Ada and Susan come into a very close relationship, you will never be able to put down this book.
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  • Karen
    January 15, 2016
    Pulled into the parking lot on this wintry afternoon with one CD left to go. Did I go into the store or shiver in my truck to hear the end? I'm still cold. Totally worth it.
  • Brody
    March 19, 2017
    I would have voted for this at the Rebeca Caudill if I had read it. It was truly inspiring
  • Ann
    February 17, 2015
    I read Goodnight, Mr. Tom a million times when I was younger, so I was intrigued by the surface similarity with this book (abused child WWII evacuee to the countryside with a curmudgeon guardian). I think this book is better at some thing, not as good as others. I've been seeing a lot of buzz around the book, and while I loved it, I don't think it's going to go the distance come awards time. First what I loved: I thought the portrayal of Ada's PTSD and attachment disorder (neither called such in I read Goodnight, Mr. Tom a million times when I was younger, so I was intrigued by the surface similarity with this book (abused child WWII evacuee to the countryside with a curmudgeon guardian). I think this book is better at some thing, not as good as others. I've been seeing a lot of buzz around the book, and while I loved it, I don't think it's going to go the distance come awards time. First what I loved: I thought the portrayal of Ada's PTSD and attachment disorder (neither called such in the book, as keeping with historical norms) were done very well. Her reactions and actions made perfect sense to me, even if they did not always do so to her, such as having some major breakdowns at moments that "should" have been happy and affirming, like the Christmas Eve fit. Finally feeling safe and cared for can trigger some unpleasantness that it wasn't "safe" to work through up to that point.I liked that Susan's behavior is not just that of the stereotypical curmudgeon won over by cute children. She appears to be clinically depressed for much of the book, though of course they never use those words. She keeps saying that she shouldn't be given the care of children, and honestly, she's probably right. If she'd been given children less used to caring for themselves it could have been a real problem. I'm torn about how I feel about the fact that it was unstated but heavily implied that Susan and Becky had been lesbians. On the one hand, it's definitely within period authenticity that it does not ever come up in conversation, but on the other hand I'm not sure how many kids will pick up on it (which, she says bitterly, was probably a selling point.) LGBT people are largely erased from history, it would have been nice to have it more openly acknowledged, though I suppose that with a middle grade novel set in the 1940's, I should be glad that the subtext is there at all and stop complaining.One of the flaws of the book was the abrupt chapter endings. They were clearly trying to create cliffhangers to keep you reading (and it definitely worked, so there's that) but they were often abrupt changes of subject or sudden leaps in time that didn't always flow well. I could see the author purposefully trying to hook my interest for the next chapter, and any time you can see the hand of the creator is generally not a good thing.My other problem was a plot related one. (view spoiler)[Ada catches a spy, and really the book didn't need this part. She had already proven to herself and most of the community that she was resilient and resourceful during the Dunkirk rescue (and as a sidenote, will kids who don't have background knowledge, be able to understand exactly what happened nad does it matter?). So it's just dramatic and unrealistic, without really moving the main plot or character arc forward. It took me out of the story because I found it too unlikely (were there ANY German spies found trying to land via the sea in such a manner? Did any children find spies at all? I feel like I'd have heard of them if so, though I admit my WWII history comes almost entirely from fiction.) (hide spoiler)]I also felt the mother character was too one dimensional, especially next to the complex personalities of Susan and Ada. She's just a hateful person. The mention of a loving father also didn't ring quite true, since why would he not have insisted that Ada get treatment if he cared for her that much? It threw a strange loop into the story that seemed more intended to explain why Mam had children in the first place which, in a world where birth control was nonexistant, didn't really need to be explained.In any case, this is coming off as more negative than I intended, since I really did enjoy it very much.
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  • Shuk Pakhi
    November 15, 2016
    এগারো বছরের মেয়ে আডা আর ছয় বছর বয়সী ছোটভাই জেমি, তাদের বাবা নেই মা আছে। তিনজনের এই ছোটট পরিবারটির দেখা পাই আমরা লনডনের একরুমের একটি ফলযাটে।আডার জঞান হবার পর থেকে এই রুমের বাইরে সে কখনো যায়নি। বাইরের পৃথিবী সে ততটুকুই দেখেছে যতটুকু একটি জানালা দিয়ে দেখা যায়। আডার একটি পা বাঁকানো, সে হাঁটা দূরে থাক দাঁড়াতেও পারে না। তার মা চায় না সে কারো সাথে মিশুক। সে তার ভাইয়ের দেখা শুনা করে মায়ের জনয খাবার তৈরি করে এবং কষণে কষণে মায়ের হাতের আঘাতও তাকে হজম করতে হয়। এসব নিয়েই চলছিল তার জীবন। এদিকে জেমি বড় হয়ে উঠে এগারো বছরের মেয়ে আডা আর ছয় বছর বয়সী ছোটভাই জেমি, তাদের বাবা নেই মা আছে। তিনজনের এই ছোট্ট পরিবারটির দেখা পাই আমরা লন্ডনের একরুমের একটি ফ্ল্যাটে।আডার জ্ঞান হবার পর থেকে এই রুমের বাইরে সে কখনো যায়নি। বাইরের পৃথিবী সে ততটুকুই দেখেছে যতটুকু একটি জানালা দিয়ে দেখা যায়। আডার একটি পা বাঁকানো, সে হাঁটা দূরে থাক দাঁড়াতেও পারে না। তার মা চায় না সে কারো সাথে মিশুক। সে তার ভাইয়ের দেখা শুনা করে মায়ের জন্য খাবার তৈরি করে এবং ক্ষণে ক্ষণে মায়ের হাতের আঘাতও তাকে হজম করতে হয়। এসব নিয়েই চলছিল তার জীবন। এদিকে জেমি বড় হয়ে উঠে সে এখন স্কুলে যায়, বন্ধুদের সাথে বাইরে খেলতে যায়। আডার সময় কাটে না। এতদিন যে বাইরের দিক থেকে মুখ ফিরিয়ে রেখেছিল কিন্তু এখন জেমির সূত্র ধরে বাইরের পৃথিবী তাকেও টানে। উপায় নেই। বাইরে যাওয়ার বা কারো সাথে বন্ধুত্ব করার অনুমতি তার মা তাকে দেয় না।বাইরে যাওয়ার এই আকুতি থেকেই আমরা দেখতে পাই এগারো বছরের একটি মেয়ে উঠে দাঁড়াতে শিখছে, শিখছে গুটি গুটি করে হাঁটা। কি কষ্টকর সেই প্রাণান্ত চেষ্টা। যেকোন বাচ্চাই প্রথম হাঁটতে শেখে তার প্রিয়জনের হাত ধরে আর আডা হাঁটতে শিখছে একটি কাঠের চেয়ার ধরে, মায়ের কাছ থেকে লুকিয়ে লুকিয়ে।এরকম একটি সময়ে দেখা দেয় ২য় বিশ্বযুদ্ধ, লন্ডনে বোমা পরতে আর বাকি নেই তাই সেখান থেকে সব ছোট বাচ্চাদের সরিয়ে গ্রামে পাঠিয়ে দেয়া হচ্ছে। জেমিকে পাঠাতে রাজি হলেও তাদের মা আডাকে কিছুতেই পাঠাতে রাজি নন। কিন্তু আডা জেমিকে একা ছাড়বে না। তাই আমরা দেখি এক সকালে আডা তার মায়ের জুতো চুরি করে ভাইয়ের হাত ধরে বাড়ি থেকে পালিয়ে যায়।ট্রেনে করে যাওয়ার সময় এই এগারো বছরের মেয়েটির উচ্ছ্বাস দেথে আমরা থমকে যাই। সে ঘাস দেখিয়ে তার ভাইয়ের কাছে জানতে চায় ওগুলো কি? তার জানতে চাওয়ার আর শেষ হয় না এটা কি? ওটা কি? ছোট্ট জেমি যতটুকু পারে তার বোনের জ্ঞান-ভান্ডার পূর্ণ করার চেষ্টা করে যায়।একসময় জেমির স্কুলের বাচ্চাদের সঙ্গে আডাও গিয়ে হাজির হয় গ্রামে। গ্রামের লোকেরা এসব বাচ্চাদের একজন দুজন করে তাদের বাড়িতে নিয়ে যায় কিন্তু আডা আর জেমিকে কেউ নিতে রাজি হয় না। শেষে তাদেরকে সুসান নামের এক মহিলার ঘাড়ে চাপিয়ে দেয়া হয়। যে কিনা কিছুতেই এই বাচ্চাদের দায়িত্ব নিতে রাজি নয়। কিন্তু আডা এখানেই থাকবে কেননা এই বাড়িতে যে একটি ঘোড়া আছে। সুসানের প্রতি আডার ব্যবহারে অনেক সময় আমারই মেজাজ খারাপ হয়েছে। আডাকে অকৃতজ্ঞ মনে হয়েছে। কিন্তু সুসান ঠান্ডা মাথায় আডাকে বুঝার চেষ্টা করেছে। তার পায়ের চিকিৎসার ব্যবস্থা করেছে। কিন্তু আডা সুসানের ভালোবাসাকে সহজভাবে নিতে পারছিল না। ক্রিসমাসের দিন আমরা জানতে পারি এর পেছনের কারন। আডা ভাবত তার মা কেন সুসানের মতন নয় অথবা সুসান কেন তার মা নয় অথবা এই যে এত আদর এটা অস্থায়ী যুদ্ধ শেষ হলেই তো তাকে ফিরে যেতে হবে আবার সেই একরুমের বাসায় তার মায়ের কাছে, তার পুরনো জীবনের কাছে। এসব ভেবেই সে রেগে যেত। আডা-জেমি যখন সুসানের জীবনের অবিচ্ছেদ্য অংশ হয়ে উঠতে শুরু করেছে। যখন বিদেশী স্পাই ধরিয়ে দিয়ে আডা হয়ে উঠে গ্রামের হিরো। হঠাৎ সে সময় তাদের মা এসে আডা আর জেমিকে ফিরিয়ে নিয়ে যায় লন্ডনে। আডা জানতে পারে ছোটবেলায় যদি তার পায়ের চিকিৎসা করা হত তাহলে সে হাঁটতে পারত কিন্তু তার মা চিকিৎসা না করে তাকে ঘরে আটকে রেখেছে। তার মায়ের এমন আচরণের পেছনের কারনও আমরা জানতে পারি। আডা সিদ্ধান্ত নেয় জেমিকে নিয়ে সে সুসানের কাছে চলে যাবে। তার মাও রাজি হয়। যদি তাকে কোন টাকা খরচ করতে না হয় তাহলে আডা আর জেমি কোথায় গেল কার কাছে গেলো তা নিয়ে সে মাথা ঘামাবে না বলে জানিয়ে দেয়। সেদিন রাতেই লন্ডনে বোমা বর্ষণ শুরু হয়। যখন আডা-জেমি সুন্দর একটা শৈশবের দেখা পেতে শুরু করেছে তাদের জীবন প্রদীপ কি তখনই নিভে যাবে? নাকি তা আরো উজ্জ্বল হয়ে জ্বলে উঠবে? সুসান লন্ডনে হাজির হয় আডা-জেমিকে ফিরিয়ে নিতে সে কি তা পারবে? সুসান কি পারবে আডা-জেমিকে নিয়ে আনন্দে থাকতে? পারবে কি তার প্রিয় বন্ধু বিয়োগের কষ্ট ভুলে যেতে??
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  • Marianne
    April 28, 2016
    The War That Saved My Life is a book for young readers by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley. Ada Smith is a useless cripple, or at least, that’s what her mother says. Because of her twisted foot, she’s confined to their flat, while her beloved brother Jamie freely roams their London neighbourhood. It’s 1939, and Hitler is about to invade, so Jamie is to be sent to the country, along with hundreds of other children, for their safety. But Ada is determined not to be left behind.When they get off the trai The War That Saved My Life is a book for young readers by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley. Ada Smith is a useless cripple, or at least, that’s what her mother says. Because of her twisted foot, she’s confined to their flat, while her beloved brother Jamie freely roams their London neighbourhood. It’s 1939, and Hitler is about to invade, so Jamie is to be sent to the country, along with hundreds of other children, for their safety. But Ada is determined not to be left behind.When they get off the train in Kent, they are assigned to an extremely reluctant Susan Smith. They are surprised to be treated so well by her, certain that they do not deserve it and unconvinced they will be allowed to stay. But stay they do, and while not everything runs smoothly, they are very glad not be hungry and cold. Ada is immediately drawn to Butter, the pony in the attached field: her dream is to ride and jump fences. Jamie is drawn to the pilots at the nearby airfield, and Susan is forced to emerge from her long-standing depression to care for her vulnerable charges.Bradley gives the reader a view of wartime Britain from the perspective of a ten-year-old whose life of hardship and cruelty has made it difficult for her to trust others or believe in herself. Ada’s ignorance and naiveté make for a refreshingly different view of the social customs and accepted behaviours of the time. Ada’s slow but steady emotional development, her resolute spirit and her courage are an inspiration. Readers will feel like cheering at the point that Ada declares “…my foot’s a long way from my brain”. Bradley presents this episode in Britain’s history in a form that young readers will appreciate, learn from and enjoy: a moral tale wrapped up in an adventure story. She beautifully illustrates the detrimental effects of abuse and neglect, and the positive power of care, support and love. This critically acclaimed 2016 Newbury Honor Book is a moving and uplifting read.
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  • Emma
    October 13, 2015
    There was something off about this book for me. I enjoyed reading it, but I never really got into it. Maybe my expectations were too high. I've heard a lot of buzz about this book being a front-runner for the Newbery, so I went into it expecting it to hit me deep in my soul. I kept waiting for something to happen, and there were all these hints about things that COULD happen both on the relational, character level (I wanted to know more about Susan and Becky!) as well as within the larger contex There was something off about this book for me. I enjoyed reading it, but I never really got into it. Maybe my expectations were too high. I've heard a lot of buzz about this book being a front-runner for the Newbery, so I went into it expecting it to hit me deep in my soul. I kept waiting for something to happen, and there were all these hints about things that COULD happen both on the relational, character level (I wanted to know more about Susan and Becky!) as well as within the larger context of World War II, but it just never quite got there for me. It was all so ... benign. It was like reading Little Orphan Annie with Ben Stein narrating it and without all the cheerful songs. Ada certainly wasn't the perfect Annie and neither was Susan a magnanimous Daddy Warbucks, but it seemed like all of their flaws got glossed over so that the reader WOULD have that view of them. Then there was an abrupt shift in the last 50 pages when all of a sudden events unfolded quickly. But, by that point it all just seemed shoved in there as if the author realized that she had spent the whole time la-dee-daa-ing over Ada and Butter and that, shoot, she needed to wrap up some of the loose ends of what was actually going on. Maybe if I had felt more of a connection with Ada or any of the other characters in the first 250 pages I would have been able to care more about everything that happens in the last 50ish pages, but by then the merely deferential tone toward them was engrained in me and I just didn't really care. Good story? Yes. Did it move my soul? Nope.
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  • Elise C
    November 22, 2016
    Ada is a nine-year-old girl who has never left her one room apartment. Ada's mom is too humiliated by her twisted foot to let her go outside. When Ada hears her little brother, Jamie, is getting shipped out to London because of war she makes a risky decision to sneak out and go with him. Ada and Jamie are taken in by Susan Smith who doesn't want them at first. During Ada's time there she learns how to read and ride a pony. After a while Susan starts to love the two kids and they begin to trust h Ada is a nine-year-old girl who has never left her one room apartment. Ada's mom is too humiliated by her twisted foot to let her go outside. When Ada hears her little brother, Jamie, is getting shipped out to London because of war she makes a risky decision to sneak out and go with him. Ada and Jamie are taken in by Susan Smith who doesn't want them at first. During Ada's time there she learns how to read and ride a pony. After a while Susan starts to love the two kids and they begin to trust her. Will their bond be enough to keep them together? Or will the fall back into their mothers cruel hands? I loved this book! It is definetly my new favorite book! I loved how they kept it going. There was never a slow part in the book. Most of this book made me feel sad because of how her mom treated her. Then, on the other hand there were parts of the book that made me feel happy because she accomplished something. This book is a lot like The Night Divided and Out Of My Mind . You should definetly read this book! Trust me you will love it. I know I did!
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  • Mississippi Library Commission
    May 13, 2016
    The War that Saved My Life walked away with a Newbery Honor and a Schneider Family Book Award at the Youth Media Awards in 2016 and was named to several lists of must read kids books. After devouring and falling in love with the book, we can totally see why. Ada is one of our favorite heroines in quite some time: she's smart, she's loving, and she's indomitable. She has spunk in spades! It was a real pleasure to experience the way she blossomed and grew as the book progressed. Middle graders who The War that Saved My Life walked away with a Newbery Honor and a Schneider Family Book Award at the Youth Media Awards in 2016 and was named to several lists of must read kids books. After devouring and falling in love with the book, we can totally see why. Ada is one of our favorite heroines in quite some time: she's smart, she's loving, and she's indomitable. She has spunk in spades! It was a real pleasure to experience the way she blossomed and grew as the book progressed. Middle graders who enjoy books about WWII and history will like this one, as well as kids who enjoy realistic fiction. Highly recommended.
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