Saturday, July 23, 2016

The War That Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Staff review by Chris Saliba

American children's author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has written a page-turning historical novel set in England during the Second World War.

Ada has been born with a clubfoot, a condition which has deteriorated through neglect. Confined to a room by her Mam, Ada is unable to walk and drags herself around. Her only access to the outside world is a window in her dingy room. Ada lives with her younger brother, Jamie. The siblings are unwanted by their Mam and treated appallingly. Mam saves her worst cruelty for Ada, who she despises for her disabled foot. Secretly Ada starts to train herself to walk. This is a terribly painful business, but she persists.

Luckily for Ada, war is coming. The Second World War. The English are evacuating their children to the countryside, where it is hoped their safety will be more secure. It is decided that Jamie will be evacuated, but Mam insists Ada must stay. Ada sees her chance and secretly joins Jamie for the countryside. Both children are taken in by Susan Smith, a woman grieving the recent loss of her friend Becky. Away from her cruel Mam, Ada starts the long journey of coming out of her shell, until finally she shines performing some heroic wartime deeds.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has written a brilliantly paced and evenly constructed historical novel that is utterly gripping from the first page to the last. Ada’s journey from loathed and misunderstood cripple to young girl embraced by her community is described with great empathy. Every inch of the way the reader really does walk in Ada’s shoes, making a huge emotional investment in her success.

A coming of age story about a disabled girl who, through sheer grit and determination, beats all the odds. Inspiring and uplifting.

8-12 year olds

The War That Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Published by Text. ISBN: 9781925355642 RRP: $16.99

To sign up for our monthly newsletter, featuring new releases, book reviews and favourite articles from around the web, click here.