As many of you can relate, homeschooling just isn’t where the big bucks are. For most of us, it is a financial sacrifice to school our children at home. It is a worthy calling and a worthy sacrifice. One thing I wish I could provide for my children are opportunities for travel. I would love to take them along the route the Ingalls family traveled in the Little House Books. To let them see the secret room where Corrie Ten Book hid with her family. To visit the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore, The Eifle Tower or Buckingham Palace would be a grand adventure.
Now, please hear me. I am happy with my life. I love the life my husband and I have built together with our children. The sacrifices have been worth it. We have been blessed beyond what I can comprehend. We have had experiences gifted to us over the years that we would not otherwise have been able to afford. I am not, by any means, complaining.
Enter books. Books can take my children where I cannot… to another time and another place. Books can expose them to things in a way that I am just not able to do. What I am able to do is curate books, take my children to the library, max out our cards, and allow for blocks of time in the day to settle in and read. I read to them, we listen to audio books, they read on their own. It is my hope to promote a culture of literacy and a love of reading in our home. I once heard a friend say about her homeschool that if she taught her children to read, she opened the world to them.
I checked out The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley a few weeks ago to read for myself. I love historical fiction, especially for young adults (I’m young at heart, right?). Last year, I read her book, Jefferson’s Sons and was impressed. I also am fascinated at the time period of World War 2 and the children of the war who were evacuated from London to the countryside.
This is a Newberry Honor book as well as the winner of the Schneider Family Book Award. The book focuses on a young girl named Ada who has never left her one room apartment. Her mother is too humliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. Her little brother Jamie is allowed to attend the local school. When the war begins to come close to home and children are sent by train to the countryside, Ada sneaks out to join Jamie and the other children in the evacuation.
This begins a new adventure for Ada and Jamie as a woman named Susan Smith is forced to take them in. Ada is exposed to an entirely new world filled with nature, a pony, German spies, enough food to eat, and books to read. Susan begins to love Jamie and Ada, but the bond is tested through the trials of wartime.
The author does a great job of contrasting life in London, in the one room apartment with life in the countryside. I found myself cringing and holding my breath with Ada is shoved into a cabinet by her mother as a form of discipline. The descriptions of the smells and roaches that lurked in the cabinet were vivid. The book is also filled with history concerning World War 2. Names and dates and events are found throughout the book in a way that is engaging and thoughtful… much different than in a text book or a classroom lecture.
Ada is a relateable character for young readers. I imagined my daughter reading this book. Ada hears words that she doesn’t understand. The people around her assume she knows what words like “surgery” or “making arrangements” mean. They assume she knows much more than she does. At times, she asks for clarification and at times she does not, thus causing confusion and anger in her heart.
Ada is a survivor, courageous, and persistent. We see her protect and care for her little brother. We see her time and time again willing to put her needs aside and care for him. We also see her struggle when someone else who is older and wiser and has more resources steps into the care taker role. Ada struggles to trust Susan Smith to take care of them. For so long, Ada has had to be a grown up in so many ways, she struggles greatly when she is allowed to be a little girl. This again reminds me of my own girl who took on so many adult roles while her sister battled cancer. We have had to remind her that she is a little girl and does not have to be the care taker or make sure everyone is ok. She can relax and let us take care of her.
The second book, The War I Finally Won, continues the story of Ada and Jamie. The war is still raging. Their mother has given up her rights as a parent and Susan Smith has been named their legal guardian. We watch as Ada grows to love and let people love her. We watch as she finally gets the surgery she has needed all her life to correct her club foot. She struggles with anger and bitterness that her mother could have had her foot fixed as a baby, but chose to let her live with the painful condition. Ada clearly struggles is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I love the way Susan cares for Ada in her darkest moments. It is a beautiful book series of loss and pain and redemption.
I am having my twelve year old (girl) and thirteen year old (boy) read it now. I think younger children could read it, but much would go over their heads.
The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has 322 pages and can be found in the Young Adult section of the library as it is geared for ages 9-12. The second book in the series, The War I Finally Won is 389 pages.
Just in case it needs to be said, I am by no means a professional book reviewer or book critic. I just like to read and share what I have learned. I am also an affiliate with Amazon. If you click through and purchase through links on this blog, our family will receive a small percentage from the purchase. Thank you.