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Joan reviews… The War that Saved My Life

*Summer Reading List Spotlight*

This is on the Haverhill Public School’s recommended summer booklist for Grades 4-5.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Published: 2015

Age Range: 9+

Genre: Historical Fiction

Awards: Newbery Honor 2016

Joan read The War That Saved My Life and this is what she thought…

Ada, a young disabled girl, and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II. There they must navigate a whole new world of things they’ve never seen or done, and adjust to a much gentler life away from their abusive mother. I loved watching Ada blossom once she had someone to truly care for her and support her. I thought the story was very realistic in most of Ada’s reactions (like expecting to get hit when she did something wrong or having a panic attack when having to go into the bomb shelter), and I liked that that wasn’t sugar coated.

This book was hard for me, because I have trouble understanding how anyone can be so mean to a child. Even when Ada and Jamie’s life improved with Susan, it hurt my heart to see how long it took them to accept that anything good could be permanent. My favorite character is Susan. She believed herself to be “not a nice person”, but she is actually so decent and accepting of the children, that she supports them way better than their mother ever did. If I was going to change an element of the story, I would take out the spy storyline. It is an unnecessary side-plot and much less believable than the rest of the book.

The main theme in The War That Saved My Life is family relationships and the ability to survive versus thrive. This book vividly paints a picture of how awful Ada’s life was in London, and then illustrates how long it takes Ada and Jamie to accept anything good as their life with Susan unfolds. But I loved seeing them truly become a family in the end.

Who would you recommend this book to?

I really believe anyone from sixth grade up would like this book – including adults. Especially good for fans of historical fiction. This book is a bit hard to read in some spots, such as where Ada is being hit by her mother. However, in other sections it’s full of wonder as the children become more confident and try new things – like when Ada gets to know the horse, Butter. This is an amazing look into a lower class child’s life during WWII, and I really loved the sense of hope that it gave you. Definitely recommend this book!

Place a hold on the print copy here, the audiobook here, or our digital Overdrive copies here!



The War I Finally Won                                  Number the Stars

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley                              by Lois Lowry

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