Talk about perseverance! This is a middle grade book that takes place during WWII and follows the life of Ada and her brother Jamie. Ada has a club foot, never learned to walk because of it, and is an embarrassment to her abusive mother. As such, 9-year old Ada is never allowed out of the small apartment they all share so her mother won’t be shamed by her. But when the war hits, and the children of London are shipped to the country to escape the danger, including Jamie, Ada vows to leave and go with him no matter what her mother says.
Ada is an unbelievable character. Endearing, strong-willed, curious, untrusting, and ultimately incredibly brave. What Ada does to escape London with her brother is nothing short of miraculous. She and her brother end up in the English countryside with a woman named Susan, and she doesn’t want them either – not because of shame like their mother, though. Susan just had her own issues and didn’t want the responsibility. But as time passes, Ada begins to trust Susan, and Susan begins to love Ada and her brother. Susan doesn’t “see” Ada’s club foot, and Ada stops seeing it as a hindrance to her life. Ada grows and learns and thrives under Susan’s care – she learns to read, she learns how to ride and care for a horse, and she is learning to love. But what happens when the war ends and the children have to return to London?
The title of this book is tremendous. Think about it. Most people wouldn’t typically credit a war with saving lives. But for Ada, the war gave her a chance to get out of the four walls that have imprisoned her for her entire life. The war enabled her to understand that there are people in the world that do not see her as an abomination because of a simple physical deformity. The war catapulted her into a life she never even dreamed existed, must less a life she thought she could have or deserve. This war gave her hope and in every sense saved her life. And it impacted Susan’s life in ways she could have never imagined either.
I loved this book so much that I find myself talking about it as if Susan and Ada are real people that I know personally. That is how strongly this book affected me. Talk about an emotional connection! This book is truly one of those unforgettable ones that you only come across once in a while. Every element of the book is exactly perfect in my eyes. It is heartwarming, encouraging, hopeful, heartbreaking, endearing, and just simply AMAZING. You will root for Ada. You will love Ada! You will remember Ada!
Side note: Both of my granddaughters read this book. The 9-year old loved it and we have talked about the book at length! The 14-year seemed less impressed and commented that she “doesn’t really like war books” which kind of led me to believe she may not have given the book much of a chance past the first couple of chapters. Either way, it is obvious that not everyone will react to this book the same way I did. Like my note at the top of the blog says – we all react to books differently. But I still think this book is worth a read for young and old alike.
2016 Newbery Honor Book
Published January 8, 2015 by Dial Books
My rating – 5 out of 5
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