The War That Saved My Life Summary-Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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TitleThe War That Saved My Life
AuthorKimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publication Year2015
PublisherPuffin Books
GenreHistorical Fiction
SettingWorld War II, England
ProtagonistAda Smith
Awards– Newbery Honor (2016)
– Schneider Family Book Award (2016)
– Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production (2016)
SequelThe War I Finally Won (2017)

The War That Saved My Life Characters

The main characters of The War That Saved My Life are:

1. Ada Smith – The protagonist and narrator of the story, Ada is a ten-year-old girl with a clubfoot. She lives with her abusive mother and younger brother, Jamie, in London. When the war breaks out, Ada and Jamie are evacuated to the countryside, which becomes a turning point in Ada’s life.

2. Jamie Smith – Ada’s younger brother, Jamie, is around six years old. He is a cheerful and resilient boy who loves animals. Jamie shares a strong bond with Ada and supports her throughout their journey.

3. Susan Smith – Susan is the woman who takes Ada and Jamie in when they are evacuated from London.

4. Lady Thorton – Lady Thorton is a wealthy woman in the village where Ada and Jamie are evacuated. She is known for being strict and demanding but shows kindness and compassion towards the children.

5. Miss Smithers – Miss Smithers is Lady Thorton’s housekeeper. She initially resents Ada and Jamie’s presence but gradually warms up to them and becomes a supportive figure.

6. Stephen White – Stephen is a boy in the village who befriends Ada and Jamie. He becomes Ada’s closest friend and confidant, supporting her as she confronts her insecurities and fears.

7. Mr. Grimes – Mr. Grimes is a local handyman who works for Lady Thorton. He is initially suspicious of Ada and Jamie but gradually develops a fondness for them.

The War That Saved My Life Themes

The major themes throughout the novel “The War That Saved My Life” are:

  • Resilience and Triumph over Adversity
  • Love and Family Bonds
  • Identity and Self-Discovery
  • War and its Impact on Lives
  • Empathy and Understanding
  • Friendship and Trust
  • Courage and Bravery
  • Freedom and Independence
  • Healing and Redemption

The War That Saved My Life Synopsis

“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a compelling historical fiction novel set during World War II.

The story follows Ada, a ten-year-old girl living in London with a cruel and abusive mother.

Due to her clubfoot, Ada has never been allowed outside or experienced the world beyond her apartment.

When London is being evacuated to protect children from bombings, Ada’s younger brother, Jamie, is sent away, and she seizes the opportunity to escape her oppressive home.

The siblings are sent to a small town in the English countryside, where Susan Smith, a woman with a sad background, is given charge of them.

As Ada adjusts to her newfound freedom, she learns to ride a pony named Butter and discovers her own strength and resilience.

With Susan’s patience and guidance, Ada begins to heal emotionally and physically.

However, their newfound happiness is threatened when Ada’s mother resurfaces, intent on reclaiming her children.

The War That Saved My Life Summary

Ada is ten years old when World War II approaches London. She has spent her whole childhood confined to a one-room flat because her mother, Mam, is embarrassed by her deformed clubfoot. Mam is emotionally & physically cruel to Ada and her brother Jamie, so they flee to a small town in Kent, where they are taken in by Susan Smith, a single lady living alone. Susan supports both children with clothing, food, housing & medical care. As Germany and England declare war, tensions between Ada & Jamie rise. Jamie wishes to return to London, whilst Ada wishes to stay with Susan.

Ada trains herself to ride Susan’s horse Butter, allowing her to go quickly for the first time in her life without experiencing foot discomfort. Jamie attends school, but Ada feels unsuitable to go, therefore Ada spends her days riding Butter to understand how to care for horses. Susan finds that Jamie is unhappy at school because his educator has been tying his wrist to his desk in an attempt to make him right-handed. This is an important point in the novel, as Susan is promoted from caretaker to protector, a position Ada is used to fulfilling for Jamie. Ada’s frustration at Susan intensifies when she discovers that Susan has been neglecting Butter, however unintentionally, by not clipping his hooves.

When Ada damages Susan’s sewing machine, Butter recovers and the friendship between Susan and Ada begins to heal. Ada expects Susan to be enraged, but Susan is cool and kind, even offering to show Ada how to sew. Susan also proposes teaching Ada how to read & write and massages her clubfoot to help her improve flexibility. Susan writes to Mam on a regular basis, requesting permission to have Ada’s foot operated on, but Mam never responds.

Ada’s frustration and confusion increase as she accepts that Mam might have corrected her clubfoot when she was a baby. She writes to Mam to request authorization for the corrective operation. Ada’s letter gets returned unread since Mam had relocated without providing a new address.

When Ada cares for wounded troops, she finds her own strength and courage. The village’s children are evacuated, but Susan insists on keeping Ada and Jamie with her. As the Battle of Britain begins, Susan, Ada, and Jamie escape nightly air strikes. Ada continues to ride Butter during the day and spots a strange individual rowing towards shore. When the man turns out to be a spy, she is lauded as a local hero for reporting him to the authorities. This is the pinnacle of Ada’s self-assurance, and it is followed by Mam’s return, which brings the novel’s tension to a head.

Ada & Jamie come back to London along with Mam, who resumes her nasty behaviour. Ada confronts Mam, offering to go with Jamie and completely remove them from her life. Before Ada & Jamie can leave, London is bombarded, and they are forced to evacuate to a shelter. When they return the next day, Susan is looking for them among the debris. They return to Kent with Susan only to find out that a bomb has fallen squarely on their house while Susan was in London looking for them. Susan admits that going after Ada & Jamie saved her life.

The War That Saved My Life Series

There are 2 books in The War That Saved My Life Series.

The first book: The War That Saved My Life (2015)

The second book: The War I Finally Won (2017)

The War That Saved My Life FAQs

What is the message of The War That Saved My Life?

The message of “The War That Saved My Life” is the power of resilience, love and self-discovery in overcoming adversity and finding one’s true worth.

Is there romance in The War That Saved My Life?

Yes, there is a hint of romance in “The War That Saved My Life,” particularly between two secondary adult characters.

How did The War That Saved My Life end?

Ind the end, Ada and her brother Jamie are reunited with their mother, Susan, who has overcome her own struggles. They find a hopeful future together.

What age level is The War That Saved My Life?

The age level of “The War That Saved My Life” is typically recommended for readers aged 9 to 12 years old.

Is the book The War That Saved My Life based on a true story?

No, The War That Saved My Life is a work of historical fiction and is not based on a true story.

Was The War That Saved My Life made into a movie?

Yes, “The War That Saved My Life” was adapted into a TV movie titled “The War That Saved My Life” in 2020.

About The Author-Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Full NameKimberly Brubaker Bradley
Date of BirthJune 24, 1967
Place of BirthFort Wayne, Indiana, United States
GenreChildren’s Literature, Young Adult Fiction
Awards-Newbery Honor (for “The War That Saved My Life”)
-Schneider Family Book Award (for “The War That Saved My Life”)
-Jane Addams Children’s Book Award (for “For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy”)
-Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction (for “Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret”)
-Golden Kite Award for Fiction (for “The War I Finally Won”)

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