Although the protagonist in this book is only ten-years-old, young adults and adults alike will love it. Ada was born with a club foot to a cruel and abusive mother. To make matters worse, she often puts herself in harm’s way to protect her little brother, Jamie. Ada’s mother calls her a monster and refuses to let her leave the apartment, even to attend school. As a result, Ada knows nothing about the outside world. When her mother is feeling especially cruel, she locks Ada in a cupboard that becomes tighter and tighter as Ada grows.
When World War II begins, Jamie, along with many other neighborhood children, is shipped to the country to protect him from the bombing of London. Although Ada wants to go, her mother insists she is too disgusting for anyone to want. Unable to walk without severe pain and bleeding, Ada manages to escape with her little brother. However, when they reach the country, no family will claim these starved, lice ridden, shabby, dirty children.
What happens, as a result, is a miracle of the best order. Bradley gets inside of the mind of an abused ten-year-old with a deep sense of shame who longs for love and acceptance but is terrified to believe they are possible. Ada’s journey is both heartbreaking and triumphant. Just when it seems she may be able to live a decent, happy life with Susan, a woman who understands rejection and loneliness, Ada is once again trapped under her mother’s brutal thumb. The suspense will keep you turning to the very last page.
This is the kind of book you can’t put down, not just because of the plot, but because you have fallen deeply in love with the characters. Highly recommended.
I was given a free paperback copy in exchange for an honest review.