The War that Saved My Life

The War that Saved Life9780803740815_p0_v2_s260x420The War that Saved my Life

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Author

Dial Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Jan. 8, 2015

Pages: 316

Suitable for Grade Levels – 4 – 7

Themes: WW II, Evacuation of children, London, Siblings, Family relationships, Disabilities, Identity

Opening: “Ada! Get back from that window!” Mam’s voice, shouting. Mam’s arm, grabbing mine, yanking me so I toppled off my chair and fell hard to the floor.

Book Jacket Synopsis: 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 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?

What I like about this book:

  • Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s story tugs at her reader’s heart-strings from the first page. It is a captivating journey about pain, love (lost and found), freedom from the past and victory over obstacles. The narrative is in Ada’s voice.
  • The setting is vivid and realistic, from Ada’s window perch to the beautiful English countryside, Susan Smith’s home, the airfield, and the community that love and support the siblings. The story is rich in detail of how WW II changed British family life. And there are spies and bombs. The author did a lot of research.
  • The story is character driven.  Readers will be captivated by Ada’s spirit and strong will.  She is a survivor and makes her escape from her one-room prison, Mam, and Hitler’s bombs.  In Ada, we see how abusive relationships can be more crippling than her clubbed foot. Ada shows signs of detachment when she finds it hard to trust and get close to Susan. Instead she bonds with a pony named Butter even though she wants to believe in love and acceptance.
  • The strong plot is fast-moving with unexpected surprises and twists that have the reader quickly turning pages.
  • The War that Saved My Life is a story that will stay with you long after you put it down. Once I finished the story, I wasn’t ready to let it go. I thought about the characters the next day and reread the last four chapters the next evening. For me, this is a book worth reading!

My Favorite Ada lines: I was greeted with smiles and shouts of “There’s our little spy-catcher! or “There’s our good lass!”  It was if I’d been born in the village. As if I’d been born with two strong feet. As if I really was someone important, someone loved.”

Resources: There is a teacher’s guide available for Bradley’s novel.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, a longtime Anglophile, first became interested in World War II evacuees, when her mother read Bedknobs and Broomsticks out loud at bedtime. Her historical fiction has garnered great acclaim: Jefferson’s Sons received four starred reviews, Ruthie’s Gift was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, and For Freedom was an IRA Teacher’s Choice and Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. Visit Bradley at her website.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

26 thoughts on “The War that Saved My Life

  1. I just put this one on my TBR. Sounds like just my kind of story. (I’ve been knocking a few books off my list since I finished Ella Wood. Several had your name as source pinned on the end!) 🙂


    • My kind of book too. It’s heartbreaking to start with, but the dynamics begin to change. A lot of surprises in this story. Other than Narnia, I haven’t ready any positive children evacuee stories.


      • I have had the pleasure of meeting a few evacuees who had wonderful experiences out in the country. Experiences they would have never had otherwise. Some of them were evacuated to Canada and after the war, they returned as adults as they loved it so much. The Guests of War series by Kit Pearson is a good example of stories about evacuees in Canada.


      • I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my review and have a connection with evacuees. This is one of my favorite books this year. So well written. Thank you for the book recommendation.


  2. I usually avoid stories about war and war time (I get too depressed), but this sounds lovely! One of my favorite science fiction authors, Connie Willis, wrote some awesome time travel stories that center around WWII and Britain. You might want to check out “Blackout” if you’re interested. 🙂


    • It’s an excellent story about the WW II, but the focus is really on the emotional life of the children. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I didn’t want the book to end, so read the last four chapters over so I could stay with the characters a little longer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks like a really good one, thanks for sharing! Have you read “Goodnight, Mister Tom”? It’s another evacuation story, one that I remember as being one of the first chapter books to really move me as a kid.


  4. I just read this–based on your recommendation, and after a wait for a library request and finding a time when I dared get lost in a book. I agree with all you said, and what a good idea to reread the last four chapters or maybe more! I think Kimberly Brubaker Bradley does a great job of writing about her characters in a way that will make it easy for young readers to empathize and get some perspective on what they can appreciate in their own lives. Thank you for another great recommendation!


    • Thank you so much for returning and letting me know that you read The War that Saved My Life. I still think about Ada’s story. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I am so glad you enjoyed it.

      Am giving My Amazing Day as to another mother-to-be as a gift. Am attending my niece’s baby shower in August. Our granddaughter reads it regularly to our great grandson. I love your book.


  5. Pingback: The War That Saved My Life | Book Discussion Guides

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