ALLen Reads – Main Book 2018

The War That Saved My Life

by Kimbery Brubaker Bradley

A Newbery Award winner for 2016. The historical details, character development, tight plot, and rich layered themes make this firecracker sizzle. Ten-year-old Ada has a clubfoot and is kept locked in her family’s one bedroom apartment while her six-year-old brother, Jamie, roams free in London, England. Mam hits her two children and punishes Ada by locking her in the cabinet under the sink. World War II is about to happen, and parents are sending children to the countryside for safety. The ironic title of this book refers not only to the physical war, but the internal and daily battles faced by the characters. War is about death and destruction, not saving; however, there are times when “some things are worth fighting for.” Most people didn’t want to go to war and avoided it until it became necessary. For Ada, “There are all kinds of wars.” The author keeps building on various themes and advances the plot pointing to those themes.




Discussion Questions:

  • Describe Ada. What does Ada really want in life?
  • What is a clubfoot? Why did Mam think Ada was “bad” because she was born with a clubfoot? How did meeting other people help Ada gain a different perspective on her disability?
  • Describe the relationship between Ada and Jamie. Why does Jamie want to go back home to Mam?
  • Freedom is a major theme in this book. Look at page 86 where Miss Smith and Ada talk about the meaning of freedom. Why is freedom important in this story? What does freedom mean to you?
  • Describe Miss Smith. How does she empower both Ada and Jamie in different ways? How do Ada and Jamie help her?
  • Why was Butter so important to Ada? How did Butter help her learn persistence and confidence? Do you have a pet or a hobby that makes you feel like Ada feels when she rides Butter?
  • Ada, Jamie, and Miss Smith tell several small lies to each other in this story. What is the difference between telling lies and being a liar?
  • How does the war change people, regardless of their social class? What role did women play in the war?
  • How did you feel at the end of the story? Which characters do you have empathy for? Who changed the most from the beginning to the end of this story?
  • The title of the book seems like a paradox since we often associate war with loss of life. What is a “paradox”?  Discuss how this war saved Ada’s life.


Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Visit Kimberly at her website!










Other ALLen Reads Events

  • Kick-Off Event: Celebrating Differences / Thursday, October 4th at 6:00 PM
  • Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo and Concert / Sunday, October 7th at 2:00 PM
  • Tea and Talk at Allen Senior Center / Wednesday, October 10th at 2:00 PM

Book Discussions at the Library. All book clubs will discuss The War That Saved My Life

  • Ladies Night Out / Wednesday, September 19th, 7-8 PM
  • Noontime Pageturners / Wednesday, October 3rd, Noon-1 PM
  • Let’s Talk Dewey / Tuesday, October 9th, 7-8 PM

Download the 2018 ALLen Reads brochure for all events and information.