Bradley, Kimberly. The War that Saved My Life. Dial Books, 2015.
Ada has never left her apartment. Her abusive mother refused to have Ada's clubfoot treated when Ada was an infant, so now Ada crawls about their apartment and cares for her younger brother. With the second world war on the horizon, many parents choose to send their children out of London to keep them safe, and Ada escapes with her brother and ends up living with an older single woman who never wanted children. Ada is safer now than she's ever been, but will she ever learn to trust?
Wow, this was a hard book to read. There will be spoilers in this paragraph, so consider yourself warned. Ada's mother locks Ada in a cupboard to punish her or her brother. I spend the first part of the book wanting to slap the woman for treating her children like that. When she escapes, Ada exhibits all the typical symptoms of a person with PTSD: she gets irrationally angry, has nightmares, and sometimes experiences panic attacks that are only abated when she is wrapped tightly in a blanket. Until she escapes London, Ada has never seen grass or trees, has never been educated, hasn't ever eaten a peach or a Brussels sprout. In the country she learns and grows and recovers and is well-fed. The book has a bit of a sad ending, but it's better than I had initially expected.
I highly recommend this book to fans of WWII historical books as well as those who wish to add more books about differently abled characters to their collections.
Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: Ada's mother slaps her and her brother, locks her in a cupboard, and calls her horrible things. There is a mild amount of British cussing involved. Ada herself is violent toward her brother until she learns not to react that way. Survivors of childhood physical abuse and neglect may need to take special care.
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars