Hello my lovely readers! I hope you’re all having a wonderful fall. I just spent my morning curled up with a mug of tea and an EXTREMELY good book, which I can’t wait to tell you about.
The book that I read was actually a sequel, so just for context’s sake, here’s the blurb for the first book:
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?
You can get the first book here
The War That Saved My Life
This sequel to “The War That Saved My Life” is just as beautifully written as the first. As soon as I finished it, I knew that it would become a modern classic. Reminiscent of novels by Sharon Creech or Lois Lowry, this novel deals with serious topics in a beautiful way. As we see World War II through the eyes of a child, we also see Ada grow and begin to recover after her life of abuse with her mother. This novel actually made me cry (thanks Kimberly Brubaker Bradley).
Historical fiction for children is some f the most important and challenging literature to handle. Covering topics such as World War II is absolutely necessary. I grew up reading books like Number the Stars and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. These books were how I got my first exposure to World War II, a topic that we didn’t cover until my junior year in high school. Novels like The War I Finally Won teach kids without overloading them. They tell the human side of the story, and it is shown through the eyes of a child who may have the same questions as them. What we see in The War I Finally Won is a complicated and thorough look at the events of World War II, as experienced by the kids who were evacuated.
Ada is the kind of heroine that I want to see more of in mid-grade fiction. She is plucky and smart and resourceful, able to handle many things that other children might run from. But despite all of the responsibility she is forced to take on, she is still a child, and we can see that in her complicated relationship with Susan. Because of Ada’s history of abuse, she still feels like she must take care of everything, that she must be the adult. Instead of the typical story of kids having to grow up too fast in wartime, here we see Ada getting to become a kid again, learning to trust and depend on other people.
One of my favorite parts of this book is the friendship between Ada and Ruth. Ruth is a German jew who has been evacuated to England. She faces discrimination from many adults, but Ada never fails to call the adults on it. Ada is very logical, and she doesn’t understand why the adults hate Ruth if they’re both fighting the same evil. Through the lens of a child we can see right through the prejudices, and because of Ada’s clear thinking, the adult’s around her begin to change their views as well. The friendship that Ruth and Ada have is so strong and real and well-written that it took me back to all of my childhood friendships.
Overall, I thought this book was one of the best pieces of middle-grade fiction I have read all year. It was touching and memorable and extremely well written. I would highly recommend it to 8-12 year olds, and their parents. You can get it here The War I Finally Won.
Final rating- 5/5
Thanks for reading my review, and until next time, happy reading 🙂