One silver lining to so much snow is that I was able to read Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s new middle grade novel, The War That Saved My Life, in one day. I know it’s too early to make predictions for next year’s award season, but Bradley’s novel seems destined for some kind of shiny sticker!
This is the kind of book that I would have loved to read on a snowy day when I was eleven. Not that it isn’t enjoyable to read as an adult, but I could almost feel my younger self by my side. It was the perfect book to read snuggled under a blanket with my Charlie Brown mug full of hot chocolate.
Set in England against the backdrop of WWII, The War That Saved My Life is the story of Ada, a young girl who has grown up in London. Ada had the bad luck to be born with a club foot, and to make matters worse, her mother is embarrassed by her daughter’s deformity and all but ignores Ada. The one thing that makes Ada’s life worthwhile is caring for her younger brother, Jamie. As London prepares for war, Ada and Jamie escape with a group of evacuees to a country village.
The children go to live with Susan, a woman who is still in mourning over the loss of her friend, Becky. Although Susan tells the kids that she is “not a nice person at all,” she is, of course, a very nice person and she transforms Ada’s life – and to top it off, she has a pony! With Susan’s love and care, Ada becomes more confident about exploring the world and learns to trust the good people around her.
This is a rich and moving novel – one I plan to share with as many kids as possible – and one I’ll keep an ear out for during the next year’s award season!