Pre-WWII England: Ada is literally stuck in an apartment, unable to move through both force and disability. She cares for little brother Jamie in the dingy, tiny apartment, whether their "Mam" is there or not. Deadbeat Mam takes the cake when it comes to negligence and abuse. Jamie sometimes gets fed because Ada gives him her food. The mom abuses Ada because of her never-repaired clubfoot, forcing her to remain in the apartment at all times, use a bucket to go to the restroom in, and punishes her by forcing her into a small cabinet under a sink filled with roaches. With the slenderest of possibility slinking around the story, Ada and Jamie join the mass exodus of children from London. Placed together in some random single-female home, Ada begins to question almost everything she knows about life. She learns to ask the myriad of questions to help her learn, including vocabulary words like beach and ocean. She also experiences some dramatic PTSD as a result of her mother's severe mistreatment. She hears their caretaker state early on that she didn't request to care for children. But like each character in the book, time and relationships change. The final 30 pages of the book move at an accelerated rate compared to the rest of the book-- this design decision by the author is a brilliant one. I loved the leisurely pace, almost life-like, of living through Ada's eyes. If you regularly read this blog, you know that I often whip through books. This one I did not want to end, but I loved the ending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. It was perfect.
I will seek this author out more frequently. Her writing style is so enterable for me. This is a terrific read. I am so grateful to have stumbled across this book. And the cover: perfection!