The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley is juvenile fiction set during World War II, and possibly one of the best children's books I've read all year.
Ada has never left her family's London apartment. Her mother is ashamed
of Ada's club foot and refuses to let her appear in public. When Ada's
little brother Jamie comes home from school with the news that children
in London are being evacuated to the countryside because of the danger
of bombings, Ada hatches a daring plan: she knows her mother would not
give her permission to go, but what if she were to go anyway? She sneaks
out with Jamie on the morning the children are to leave, and just like
that, enters what might as well be another world. In the country, Jamie
and Ada are placed with Susan, a spinster who did not intend to take in
children. Slowly, Ada and Jamie learn to trust Susan, and Susan learns
to care for, and even love, the children. But what will happen when the
war ends and Ada and Jamie must return to London?
This book has a
multitude of strengths (plot, pacing, setting to name a few) but the
characters are what make it really stand out. Each of the three main
characters has a distinct and beautifully rendered emotional journey as
the story progresses, and I was completely wrapped up in their lives
while reading. I would not be surprised to see it garner some accolades
when awards are handed out this winter!
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)