This is a heartbreaking story of abuse and rescue, due to chilling WWII circumstances that triggered the mass evacuation of children from London while the German Luftwaffe bombed the city.
Ada has a club foot, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of her bar-serving mother, who never lets her leave the house. But as her younger, physically perfect little brother grows up, he starts to leave Ada behind, playing outdoors with the other boys he discovers.
She's never pushed her mother's limits and walking on the foot is incredibly painful, but she'll do whatever she thinks she has to, to keep her little brother.
Then WWII breaks out, and soon, the city is evacuating all the children, parents saying goodbye to their kids, and putting them on trains for the countryside while anticipating German bombing.
Ada's mom makes plans to evacuate her brother, but not her. Ada manages to get to the train station and out of London in time and together the siblings end up with a curmudgeonly old woman who also owns a much-neglected pony.
The woman steady acceptance of Ada slowly works at Ada's insecurities, and Ada works right back at the old woman, prodding her to take better care of the pony. Ada thrives and flourishes, expanding her world and universe on her own, as well.
But when the old woman writes to Ada's mom to get permission for a surgery on Ada's foot, it sparks a response from Mom that threatens to take Ada away from the only security and acceptance she's ever known. Once she's taken away, will she ever make it back?
Be prepared to cry your eyes out on this one. The parts with the abuse are horrible to read but important, too, and the message of the importance of reporting physical as well as emotional abuse is one some students will need to hear.