Twelve-year-old Louie lives with her two brothers and their Hungarian grandparents in the Majestic Boutique Hotel. It’s a life full of love and family, although Louie wishes their famous musician parents didn’t have to be overseas so often. The family is very close, but there are secrets here. When Louie finds a locket, she’s is determined to solve its mysteries, but her investigations see her transported with her brothers back to 1944 Budapest during WWII. They meet their grandparents as young people and find themselves caught up in Underground activities. The past connects to the present in an exploration of war horrors and the cost of keeping secrets.
‘Heroes of the Secret Underground’ by Susanne Gervay, takes history on a wild time-slipping ride and explores a lesser-known story of resistance in Nazi-occupied Budapest. It is inspired by Gervay’s own family history and imagines what it would be like to ‘walk a mile’ in the shoes of others. Literally as well as figuratively. What inspired her grandparents’ responses to war? What was the cost? Why do they not talk about it? Louie and her brothers are exposed to the best and the worst of human behaviour, in the most extreme circumstances for civilians in wartime. Courageous Louie, resourceful Bert and delightful little Teddy are a formidable team, united by love. For mid-primary to early secondary readers.