Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The War that Saved My Life
Author: Kimberley Brubaker Bradley
Rating: *** (3 stars out of 3 possible, "A")
Audience: Middle School
This is excellent historical/WWII fiction. It's summer, 1939 and London is preparing for German bombardment by sending children off to country families. Ada and her brother Jamie live in a shabby flat with "Mam," their impoverished and abusive mother.
Ada is 11 or 12 years old, crippled by a club foot and Mam's frequent reminders of her shameful condition. Ada walks so poorly, she can barely drag herself to look out a window to the street scenes below. She has never been outside. Jamie, 6 or 7, has the run of the neighborhood although Ada has informed him he'll be forced into school soon. Jamie is her eyes and ears, her link to the outside world.
When Ada realizes Mam plans to send only Jamie for country evacuation, she becomes determined to learn to walk so she can escape with her brother. Upon reaching the Kent countryside, they are fostered by Miss Smith, the unlikely protagonist who provides the siblings with just the right blend of compassion and accountability.
Without revealing more of the unique plot structure, I assure you your family will not miss lessons of empathy, self-esteem, gratitude and forgiveness. Ada and Jamie suffer many of the same stressors and emotions that foster and/or adoption families experience today, but these events are explored in a safe, positive environment, making this book an outstanding choice for middle schoolers adjusting to contemporary challenges.