August 28, 2017

TYRR #5: The War That Saved My Life

Hurrah, we are on to sharing our thoughts on our fifth TYRR read for the year! (By the way, we decided to skip the three books we had planned for June, July and August. While we're both still interested in checking them out one day, we wanted to make sure to get back on schedule the only way we could.) In case you weren't aware, The Year of Recommended Reads is a project that Lindsey of Bring My Books & I came up with so we could read books together. This month, we're tackling a middle grade read that Lindsey absolutely loved.

Why was this book on my TBR? I knew that Lindsey had read and loved it, so I was already instantly intrigued. But then I heard what it was actually about, and knowing that it focused primarily on another aspect/experience of someone during WWII definitely made me want to read it more.

What is the book about? Ada has spent her entire life within the confines of her one-room apartment, a rule created by her mother who is ashamed of Ada's twisted foot. When the children are shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada sneaks out to join her brother Jamie and the others who are sent away. Once in the countryside, the siblings find themselves reluctantly taken in by Susan Smith. What none of them expect is that they are going to change each other's lives for the better.

What did I think of the book? I personally thought this was really good! It satisfied my craving for a middle grade historical fiction perfectly, and gave me a whole new set of characters to love and root for in the form of Ada, Jamie and Susan Smith (along with their friends in their small village). My heart immediately went out to Ada in particular, who has been through her fair share of terrible things and yet learns that life can be more, that she is more than what she has ever been told she could be. 

It was definitely hard to read at times, which is no surprise considering that this is set against the backdrop of WWII. But it was also so emotionally satisfying to watch Ada blossom, to watch Jamie thrive, to see Susan open up and to ultimately witness how these three characters eventually find stability, strength and hope in the familial relationship that they've cultivated with each other. It tugged at my heartstrings in the best way, and I'm so glad I finally had the opportunity to read this.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker-Bradley 
Series: The War That Saved My Life #1
Publisher: Dial Books | Publication Date: January 8, 2015
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library

Favorite character? I ultimately loved Ada best. She reminds me of a couple of other book heroines that I adore - Sara Crew from A Little Princess, Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden & Marie-Laure from All the Light We Cannot See. She's a prickly, defensive girl who is adamant on protecting herself and her brother. With a bit of coaxing, she slowly starts to flourish and come into her own. As she slowly starts to learn that she can do all sorts of things and may do them (contrary to what she's been taught to belief), it's beautiful to see her blossoming into a lovely, courageous, kind young lady. 

Favorite scene? I loved the bit set at Christmas, though I'm not going into specifics as to what happens in it to prevent any spoilers. But I loved the emotions that I felt reading about Ada and Jamie and their Christmas experiences, both the good bits and the bad bits.

Favorite quote? "It had been awful, but I hadn't quit. I had persisted. In battle, I had won."


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