May 22, 2023 Staff Reads: The War that Saved My Life + The War I Finally Won
Reviewed by Kristin Nalbone, Youth Services Librarian
The War that Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won is a tween two-book series by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. The series takes place in England during World War II and follows the life of 10-year-old Ada and her little brother Jamie. Ada and Jamie’s mother is a cruel woman who forces Ada to spend the entirety of her life in their one-room London apartment because she is embarrassed of Ada’s clubfoot. When the bombs start falling in London, families begin shipping their children away from the city. Ada and Jamie’s mother plans to send Jamie off but not Ada. However, with the aid of neighborhood friend Stephen White, Ada is able to escape with her brother.
This is when the real adventure begins! Jamie and Ada are placed in the care of reluctant guardian Susan Smith. However, as the three spend more time together, they begin to form a bond and become more like a family. Ada has quickly gone from a lonely existence in a one-room apartment to a life where she is finding friendship, learning to read, and riding horses. Can this last? Can Ada trust this new life, or will she and Jamie be returned to the hands of their cruel mother?
So begins the second and final book in the series. Ada and Jamie now have a permanent home with their loving guardian Susan, and Jamie is falling into his new life easily. Unfortunately, Ada continues to struggle with having someone else care for her. As the war rages on, she still feels the weight of her old life, caring for her brother and herself all on her own. Will Ada be able to settle in and finally feel safe and loved?
While this series was written for tweens, it will appeal to many readers of World War II historical fiction. It is a wonderful coming of age story of family and perseverance. The War that Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won are both available in print, large print, CD audiobook, eAudio, and eBook.