The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Published by Dial Books

Summary:  Ten-year-old Ada has spent her entire life in a one-room apartment, kept prisoner by her mother who is ashamed of Ada’s club foot.  When parents are ordered to evacuate their children to the country at the start of World War II, Ada sees her chance to escape and manages to get evacuated along with her younger brother, Jamie.  They are reluctantly taken in by Susan Smith, a woman who is dealing with her own grief and isolation and does not want any children in her home.  Slowly, though, the children and their guardian learn to live with each other, and Ada discovers the world around her that she has been locked out of all her life.  She assists during the Dunkirk evacuation, discovers a spy, and survives nightly air raids.  But her greatest test of courage comes when her mother reappears and demands to take the children back home.

Pros:  I got this book right before two snow days.  Thank goodness, because I could not put it down.  Ada, Susan, and Jamie are fabulous multi-dimensional characters.  The author does not whitewash their lives or their reactions to events, which only makes them more endearing.  Compelling historical fiction for fourth and fifth graders.

Cons:  There didn’t seem to me to be adequate explanation as to why the children’s mother was so horrible.  True, she was poor, uneducated, and apparently coerced into having children by a husband who then died, but it was hard for me to get a handle on why she was so hateful.

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