Monday, June 5, 2017
THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE
THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE is historical fiction. Probably my favorite genre. And it's World War II. Another favorite. A strong, independent female character. Yep. A situation similar to foster care. Yep. And it has horses. Which I totally loved as a child. I still do actually.
Ada is a ten-year-old girl living in London with her mother and younger brother, Jamie, at the start of World War II. Ada was born with a club foot. Her mother, embarrassed by her twisted foot, has kept her hidden away in their one-room apartment for almost a decade. Ada does not even have crutches or a pair of shoes. She crawls around the apartment on scabbed and bleeding knees, finally teaching herself to stand upright and walk at age ten.
When World War II starts, the children from Jamie's school are going to be protected by being taken out of the city. Ada hears about the transport, and steals her mother's shoes so that she can escape with Jamie. A neighbor child carries her piggyback from the school to the train station.
Ada and Jamie end up on a farm with Susan Smith, a woman in the deep throes of depression after losing a dear friend. Although Susan does not want to take the children, somehow the three become a family of sorts. She provides the children with life's necessities- food, clean clothes, baths, books. Ada falls in love with life on the farm, including a stubborn pony named Butter. She also becomes friends with other villagers, Maggie Thorton, a wealthy girl from a nearby estate, and the stableman from that estate, Fred Grimes.
I loved this story on a lot of levels. I think one of the things I loved most was that the story reminded me of my own sons. Like my boys, Ada and Jamie came from a life of horrific physical and emotional abuse. And they were thrust into a new life with a single woman, who had not a clue about what she was doing as a substitute mother. And her good intentions, such as providing a beautiful Christmas dress, were often overshadowed by the boys' past. But somehow they all survived…
I loved this book. And the good thing about reading it so late is that I only have to wait until October for the sequel, THE WAR I FINALLY WON. You can bet I won't be waiting two years to read that one!