Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
 From the publisher:
"Wall Street Journal's Best Children's Book of 2015
A Newbery Honor Book

An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
Nine-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 of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the 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?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making."

I thought this book did an exquisite job of showing how abuse affects a child. The main character, Ada, has been horribly abused her whole life, and all readers will be relieved when she escapes and has the chance at a new life. However, life doesn't suddenly turn rosy for her. She has trouble accepting kindness and compassion and feels completely out of place. Her new guardian reads the book Alice in Wonderland to Ada and her brother, Jamie, and this is what Ada thinks:

“It was us, I thought. Jamie and me. We had fallen down a rabbit hole, fallen into Susan’s house, and nothing made sense, not at all, not anymore.” 

It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming to watch Ada's journey to finding the strength in herself. Sometimes it is 1 step forward and 2 steps back, but slowly and surely she progresses. The patience of her guardian, Susan, is remarkable, but we are also shown how taking upon herself the guardianship of 2 abused children makes Susan grow and come out of herself. I thought the ending faltered a little bit, but all in all I really enjoyed this book. It doesn't match up to my favorite WWII-child-evacuee book, which is Good Night, Mr. Tom  by Michelle Magorian, but it is a pretty respectable second place. 

Areas of concern:
*Horrible abuse of a disabled child. Sensitive readers could be very disturbed by all of it.
*A handful of British cuss words.
*There is a very subtle inference of a homosexual relationship, but I'm quite sure the targeted age group for this book won't pick up on it.

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 5-8
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 9-12

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