Ada discovers there are worse things than bombs after she escapes her Mam’s cruelty during a children’s evacuation of World War II London.
Crippled by an untreated club foot and imprisoned at home by Mam, Ada has survived, but she hasn’t thrived. Only caring for her brother, Jamie, has made life tolerable. As he grows, goes out and tells Ada about the world, her determination to enter it surges. She secretly begins learning to walk and joins Jamie when Mam sends him to the country. Ada narrates, recalling events and dialogue in vivid detail. The siblings are housed with Susan, a reluctant guardian grieving the death of her friend Becky. Yet Susan’s care is life-changing. Ada’s voice is brisk and honest; her dawning realizations are made all the more poignant for their simplicity. With Susan’s help and the therapeutic freedom she feels on horseback, Ada begins to work through a minefield of memories but still harbors hope that Mam will accept her. In interesting counterpoint, Susan also knows what it is like to be rejected by her parents. With the reappearance of Mam, things come to an explosive head, metaphorically and literally. Ignorance and abuse are brought to light, as are the healing powers of care, respect and love.
Set against a backdrop of war and sacrifice, Ada’s personal fight for freedom and ultimate triumph are cause for celebration. (Historical fiction. 8-12)