Today is St. Stephen's Day. St. Stephen was the first king of Hungary and today is also celebrated as Hungary's national holiday. (This is a different St. Stephen than the one who has his feast day on December 26, giving us the Christmas song of Good King Wenceslas looked out/ On the feast of Stephen/ When the snow lay roundabout/ Deep and thick and even)
Anyway. Hungary. Let's look at some books that take place in Hungary!
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Our unnamed narrator is a teen who finds a cache of letters that begins this sprawling epic through geography and time, where vampires lurk in library stacks, waiting to attack. Modern teens might be a bit confused by the Cold War geography and mindset, but for those looking for something beyond the basic vampire romance, this might be the ticket. (Large portions of the story take place in Budapest.)
Hatter M, Vol. 1: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier, illustrated by Ben Templesmith. After Alyss disappears from Wonderland into our world, Hatter M comes to look for her, but on the outskirts he finds a mad woman trying to suck children of their imagination. This is the first volume in a comic book series of Hatter M's adventures that act as a companion/parallel story to Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars.
I Am Fifteen--and I Don't Want To Die by Christine Arnothy. This memoir details Arnothy's teen years in Budapest during WWII. During the bombing, she and her neighbors hide in the basement of their building, just trying to survive. Out of print, this was a favorite of mine and I love that it's a different story of the war than the one we usually get. Also see if you can track down a copy of the sequel It is Not so Easy to Live.
I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson. Bitton-Jackson was a 13 and living in Budapest when the Nazis invaded in 1944. Being Jewish, this memoir narrates her time in the camps with her mother.
His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg by Louise Borden. Wallenberg was Swedish, but he spent most of WWII in Budapest, issues papers and protective passes to Jewish citizens. He even made sure many of them were sheltered in the Swedish embassy and other buidings, where they would be safe. He saved tens of thousands, but was killed for it.
Marika by Andrea Cheng. Marika's more worried about the fact that her parents have split up than about religion-- especially as her family has become Catholic. But they used to be Jewish, and when the Nazi's finally reach Budapest, that's all that matters.
What other books from Hungary would you recommend?
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