THE YEAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This is a historical fiction novel that takes place during WWII. The novel is about a young girl named Ada and her brother, Jamie. Ada was severely abused both physically and verbally by her mother growing up. She was born with a club foot. Instead of taking her to a specialist, Ada’s mother was humiliated by her club foot and hated her for it. At this time, WWII is starting and soon bombs were going to be dropped on London. As the war worsens, Jamie gets shipped out of London. As Jamie leaves, Ada sneaks away from home to join him. The two end up in a small town with other poor and neglected children. A woman named Susan Smith is forced to take Ada and James home to live with her. On this new journey with Ms. Smith, Ada learns that Ms. Smith is really nice even though she argues she is not very nice at all. While living here Ada teaches herself to ride a horse, to read, and watch for German spies. She was able to do things she never could before living at home with her mother, locked away in the cabinet filled with roaches.
I personally think this is a great story and one that should be accessible in a 4th-12th grade classroom. I think there has to be a level of maturity when reading this book. As a teacher, it is important to know your students ahead of time before introducing this book to them. This can be a touchy subject for some students, especially those who might be experiencing the same type of abuse at home. I would never want to make a child feel uncomfortable in my classroom. Overall, I think this novel is powerful. It shows that even individuals with disabilities have the strength, courage, and integrity to get through anything.