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SLJ Full Review

September 2017

BRADLEY, Kimberly Brubaker. The War I Finally Won. 400p. Dial. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525429203.

Gr 4-6–Eleven-year-old Ada picks up her story shortly after The War That Saved My Life left off. She’s in the hospital, nervously awaiting the surgery that will fix her club foot, when Susan receives a letter from Lady Thornton that obviously upsets her. Turns out, Ada’s mother was killed in a bombing. Ada does not know how to feel about that, but, ever practical, she worries about where that leaves her and brother Jamie now that they are war orphans instead of child evacuees. Despite Susan’s assurances that the three of them are family now, Ada remains prickly and irritable, particularly when Jamie falls easily into calling Susan “Mum.” The three move into a cottage on the Thornton estate and are soon joined by Lady Thornton when the big house is needed for the war effort. Ada is leery of Lady Thornton, but living in close quarters brings out the best and worst in everyone, especially when Lord Thornton arrives with a German Jewish girl named Ruth whom he wishes Susan to tutor. Ada’s unique voice helps evoke the novel’s vivid setting and numerous complex characters. There is destitution but plenty of humor. There is also plenty of heartbreak and loss, so readers will want to keep a box of tissues handy. VERDICT Fans of the first book will love the sequel even more; truly a first purchase. While it stands alone, encourage readers to read both books to fully appreciate Ada’s remarkable and wholly believable triumph.–Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

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