'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 11 February 2018

Review: The War I Finally Won

Ada is a child whose twisted foot had been the cause of her mother’s complete lack of love for her. Shut away from the world due to her disability for years, when her little brother Jamie is sent away to escape the bombing, Ada contrives a plan to go with him.

Susan Smith is forced to care for the children. Jamie is open to everything including being loved. It’s Ada that knows nothing about anything at all, especially loving or being loved.

While experiencing her own grief and loss, Susan comes to love the children who are now orphans instead of evacuees. When Lady Thorton arranges for Ada to have surgery on her foot, suddenly, while war rages around them, Ada’s life is re-formed. But she is a work in progress. She moves slowly from the ignorant, disabled child, to a bright, energetic girl, with a thirst for knowledge and obvious potential.

Ada’s relationship with Ruth, a German-born Jewish girl who comes to be tutored by Susan, proves to be her saving grace in more ways than one. Their mutual love of horses and riding brings them together in unexpected ways.

As war brings out the best and worst in people, all the characters are tested. Forced to compromise, show patience, and understanding, we see each character shuffle their way through bigotry, acceptance and forgiveness, to love.

This story is full of emotional depth, mesmerising dialogue, and transformative optimism. The prose is a calm lake; beautiful and soothing, yet challenging with a mind of its own.

I didn’t know what to expect with this book, not having read the previous one, The War that Saved My Life. From the first page I knew it was what I look for in a book; a superbly written and engaging read, with characters you can’t help but love, even the less lovable ones.  The many underlying positive messages of compassion, and unconditional love, added a glow to the story.

Additional themes appear: those of loss and grief, human strengths and weaknesses, the pain children experience due to the lack of love, and the lessons to be learnt by the young from older people, and vice versa. 

Title: The War I Finally Won
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publisher: Text Publishing, $19.99
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925498851
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction