The War that Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
When I picked up "The War that Saved My Life," I sat curled by the fire and didn't put the book down until I was finished. What starts out as a quiet book set on the eve of World War II in England, 1939, "The War that Saved My Life" gains momentum through the trials and triumphs of the brave Ada Smith, and will leave a mark on the reader's heart.
Ada has lived with a club foot for all 10 years of her life. Her mother (who would be better suited in a Grimm's Fairytale) does not let her leave the house as she is ashamed of her useless daughter. Ada's younger brother Jamie tells her that the schools are evacuating the children away to the countryside at the onset of World War II, but Ada's mother forbids her from going.
In secret, Ada begins to practice walking when nobody is at home, albeit while painfully limping. When the day finally arrives for her and Jamie to escape, she steals her mother's shoes and walks the furthest she's ever gone to the train station. They are sent to Kent, but nobody wants to take in a crippled girl and her brother.
Lady Thornton (the person in charge of finding homes for the children), forces the young and eccentric Susan Smith to take Ada and Jamie although she hasn't the faintest idea how to raise children.
Susan says that she is "not a nice person" but gives Ada and Jamie more care than they've ever received in their life. Ada finds happiness riding horses, and with the help of a doctor, she learns how to walk with crutches. Gaining confidence, she even keeps a lookout for German spies.
Susan comes to love Ada and Jamie as her own children, but will it be enough to keep them from their cruel mother, who wants to take them back after she learns that it will cost her to have another person take care of her biological children? Ada's story shows that there are all kinds of wars, and sometimes the biggest battles one has to face are inside oneself.