The problems of a Hungarian immigrant family in Cincinnati in 1952 as seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy.

Peti’s aunt, uncle and older cousin finally get visas and come to stay with Peti and his parents until his uncle can get a job. This means that the apartment is overcrowded. To make matters worse Peti’s cousin, Gabor, bullies him. But Peti finds a refuge. He spends all his time in the library. Peti is interested in everything from the solar system to pinhole cameras.

The librarian takes an interest in Peti. She tells him about the Underground Railroad and Peti is interested. He compares the plight of the slaves to that of his own grandfather. He has heard his parents saying he has been sent to a farm. But his grandfather cannot escape from Hungary because there are too many soldiers at the border. Mrs Malone, the librarian, takes Peti on a visit to a station on the Underground Railroad which is now a museum.

The museum makes a deep impression on Peti. Earlier Gabor had made him take money out of his uncle’s suitcase. When this is discovered the grown-ups make excuses for both Peti and Gabor–– Peti because he is so young and Gabor because moving around from country to country has been hard for him. But Peti quietly reminds himself that he still knew it was wrong and Gabor did not have to swim a freezing river.

The story is told in the first person by Peti. This gives a child’s eye picture of the Iron Curtain. When he first hears that his grandfather has been sent to a farm Peti thinks he will like that. He could have a cat and kittens.

A highly original description of the Cold War. The Underground Railroad forms an interesting parallel with the border between the Communist countries and the West. Young adult.


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(US) $16.95

(US) 9781932425215




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