Ten-year-old Ada lives a lonely existence, locked away in a London apartment by a heartless mother too ashamed of her daughter’s club foot to let the girl be seen by others. When Ada’s younger brother Jamie is evacuated to escape the Blitz, she sneaks off with him and so begins their new life. The children are sent to a rural village, where they’re housed with Susan Smith, a grieving woman reluctant to take in a couple of kids. As Susan gradually emerges from her depression, Ada blossoms in a world where she’s not defined by her physical challenge. But years sequestered in a one-room flat, at the whim of her mother’s sometimes violent moods, has taken a toll on the girl’s ability to form new and loving attachments. Over time, as the feared bombing of London fails to materialize, relocated children are pulled back to the city by their families and Ada fears for her new-found freedom. Is it too much to hope that her mother will see her in a new light? All the while, the Battle for Britain looms ever closer.
Written with heart, sensitivity and an attention to period detail, this work of historical fiction for younger readers gives a genuine impression of life during wartime in an English coastal village at the start of WWII. The War That Saved My Life is emotionally candid; author Brubaker Bradley doesn’t shy away from complex themes of loss, abuse (both psychological and physical), and the conflicted bonds of family (that which you’re born into and that which you create.) Complete with triumph over adversity, horses, and German spies lurking off shore, this book would be the perfect adaptation for a Masterpiece Theater for young adults.