The War That Saved My Life
I’m in two book clubs and in one of them, this moving book was our selection for April. Marketed as an Children’s book, I think some of the content was too intense and mature for elementary aged kids, and better suited for ages 11/12 and up, but oh what a story it is! And one not to be missed.
Ada is a 10-year old girl with a club foot who has been ostracized, neglected, and literally beaten down by her mother for her disability. She and her younger brother Jamie, 6, live in poverty in London with their awful mother who works as a barmaid. As the war encroaches on London, the children see that other children are being sent away to the English countryside for safety and escape their confined apartment to join the masses of youth being shipped out of the city.
This experience is Ada’s first time outside, breathing fresh air, feeling grass, seeing horses. They are taken in by a young woman named Susan, who is somewhat of an outcast in society herself. Susan lives alone, having recently survived the loss of her companion, Becky. Though lonely, sad, and depressed and having no prior experience with children, she is gentle and kind to Ada and Jamie, and her care far exceeds anything they ever received from their mother.
The story is one of resilience all characters, especially Ada who comes to learn how strong and capable she really is, despite being told all her life she’s a cripple with no future. The relationship between Susan and the children is also one of redemption, as Ada and Jamie learn that it is possible to trust and be loved by someone other than each other.
This would be a great book to read alongside your young tween and discuss during/after as there are some vivid descriptions of abuse and neglect. Also serves as a quick, thought-provoking read for any adult, it is that powerful of a story.