As I’m preparing to lead my children in a 20th Century history course, I’ve been compiling lists of books to read, Netflix and YouTube videos, Pinterest projects and the like. I came upon a book called, The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, a 2016 Newberry Honor Book, displayed at my local library. I perused it quickly and stuck it in my bag to pre-read for the school year. While the storyline was really quite spellbinding, I want to share with you some of my troubling thoughts concerning the book as a whole.
Ada, a pre-teen girl, is telling her story of how she was a London Evacuee during the German Blitz of World War II. Born with a club foot, she lived with her mother and younger brother in a flat near the docks. She couldn’t walk, was responsible for cleaning the home and caring for Jamie, her 6 year old brother. She had never been allowed out of her tiny home, as her mother despised Ada for her condition and it is later revealed that all the neighbors have been told Ada is “simple minded.” Living under great verbal, physical and mental abuse, as well as negligence, she decides to escape with her brother with a group of evacuees heading out of the city for safety.
Along the way, she discovers just how negligent her mother, and as a result of their utter filth and poverty, had to be forced upon a single woman to take her and her brother in for the duration of the evacuation. Susan, the woman who would now care for the two children, eventually did a commendable job, not only caring for their physical needs, but providing love, kindness and nurturing such as they had never experienced before.
That much of the story was captivating, sharing not only a glimpse of the historical drama, but sharing a girl filled with so much pain, that escaping her mother and the city because of the bomb threat actually benefited her immensely. Now let’s talk about Susan. Bits of information about her past seep out through the telling of her story. She is depressed about the somewhat recent passing of her friend, Becky, who lived with her. Becky owned prize horses that she used for hunting, but had been sold off, providing Susan with living money. Susan was outcast from the city, having few friends. She was disowned by her Preacher Father, because of what she learned at Oxford. Susan’s birthday represented an especially hard day. I wondered right off if Susan was a Lesbian, but thankfully the book never became any more graphic about the relationship than the statements listed here. However, I believe any discerning reader would gather the same conclusion I had, since the target audience of this book is pre-teens, that is unacceptable! The reader is lead to believe that just as Ada cannot be responsible for her club foot, and her brother Jamie was born being left handed, so was Susan born with her “condition”.
Now, maybe this isn’t a big deal to you. Maybe this is something worth discussing with your children. I’ve discussed homosexuality and the culture with my own tween daughters. But first, you need to know the author’s stance behind this and the feminism driving this force right at our children. Bradley, the author, admits that Susan is gay and thinks it’s humorous that parents might have a problem with this, because children certainly don’t. She asserts the obviousness of Susan’s sexuality as well as confessing the whole situation of lesbian lovers living together in the countryside isn’t historically accurate. Bradley declares on her blog: “The fight for gay rights may not be over, but the war has been won. We're past the tipping point. Equality has prevailed; all that's left now is tamping out the brush fires and skirmishes.” She claims that children see expressions of gay love all the time at school and throughout public life, which pleases her greatly that it’s too common to be worth noticing. A commenter on her blog is so tickled that children reading this will able to see Susan’s reflection of such a loving relationship, that it is an invaluable tool for children to recognize and accept this. This woman is apparently a 6th grade teacher, quite excited to teach this book to her students, perhaps in a classroom near you.
In another post, Bradley’s main goal is to “write books that tell the truth”, and to represent the gay and transgender, as well as the non-white and disabled peoples. After all, aren’t they on the same level of morality and inability to choose who they are and how they are born? She asserts that it is “a disservice to our children, who need books that reflect their reality”. My reality and my Truth is a far cry from this lady’s.
CNN acknowledges the Common Core standards get credit for making history books popular. Do you suppose that with historical books written for children becoming so popular, more authors are writing these kinds of books? In a democracy, supply and demand is the breadwinner, and it is not too far-fetched to think that authors, knowing there are willing readers and willing Common Core classrooms, to write in such a way to further one’s own agenda? Obviously, writing to an agenda is nothing new, but with public schools backing books such as these and libraries and publishers praising in raving reviews and numerous awards given, there will be no end to books being written that deserve a Christian critique.