Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (audiobook)

genre: middle grade historical fiction

As a nine year old, Ada can't walk.  That's what we learn about her first - and it's the biggest thing she knows about herself. Sitting in her London flat, she spends her days looking out the window at life going by until London decides to evacuate its children because of Hitler's forces moving ever Westward.  When her beloved younger brother Jamie is sent away, she makes the choice to join him.  And in leaving, Ada has taken the first steps (pun intended) to creating a life for herself where she might feel like she has worth.

When I heard that Jayne Entwhistle narrated the audiobook, I knew I couldn't go wrong, and I was correct.  She does a wonderful job of differentiating between the different characters and her accent just drops me into England and leaves me there, I love it.

Ada.  Beloved Ada.  Her mother is horrible (both emotionally and physically abusive though not to such an extreme that it would traumatic for younger readers) and for modern children the idea that people with physical disabilities were shunned or treated cruelly might be an upsetting one.  It also might get them to think a bit how THEY treat people whose bodies might look different or work different - because Ada becomes very endearing as you get to know her.  Her anxieties and fears clearly stem from a life of feeling always on the edge and I felt the author did a wonderful job of digging inside Ada's thoughts and explaining anxiety and coping mechanisms in a way that kids can understand.  I really like the woman they end up staying with in the country - she felt believable as someone thrown into a life with two emotionally scarred children: overwhelmed and frustrated but yet can't help but CARE.  Their relationship arc was believable too.  Plus, KENT!

The ending caught me by surprise a bit - but it made me teary too, in a good way, even if some threads were left hanging.  Although I don't often choose middle grade novels, I'm very glad I gave this a try.

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