Never heard of the Hungarian revolution? Didn’t know that thousands of Hungarian political prisoners found refuge by emigrating to the United States during this time? You’re not alone.
“Hungary is a little country, only about 10 million people,” says Lake Highlands resident Judit Macranczy, author of We Have to Escape, an autobiographical novel for young adults.
“I don’t expect people to know about the Hungarian Revolution. But this is my family’s story, and it is the story of many, many people who came to live in this country to escape political or religious oppression.”
Freedom. It’s the concept that we, as Americans, hold dearest — but may often take for granted. In Macranczy’s book, the concept of freedom is illustrated in its simplest form through the eyes of the narrator, 12-year-old Andras.
We are introduced to Andras on the horrible night his father is taken from his Budapest home by the Hungarian Secret Police. What follows is a suspenseful and harrowing account of one family’s escape.
Macranczy decided to write a book chronicling her family’s ordeal after recording conversations with her mother.
“I was only four when we fled, so my memories are very vague. But it’s a story I heard from my mother in bits and pieces throughout my life,” she says.
Macranczy transcribed the conversations and began to think about the best vehicle for sharing her story. Rather than turn it into a non-fiction account, she decided her best audience would be young adult readers. Macranczy says she knew her novel needed to be an adventure to appeal to a young audience. Although she changed the names and a few details, the story is an accurate depiction of her family’s harrowing flight in 1956. The narrator, Andras, is Macranczy’s older brother; Macranczy appears as the youngest twin, Andorina.
Macranczy’s father was, in fact, arrested and held by the Hungarian Secret Police under the charge of harboring an enemy of the state. During their narrow escape from communist Hungary, the Macranczy family survived imprisonment, gunfire, border guards, fatigue and hunger. Their survival depended upon assistance from an underground network of strangers along the Austrian/Hungarian border who helped hundreds of families cross over.
In contrast, Judit’s arrival in Lake Highlands many years later was one of pure choice — and chance. After obtaining a master’s degree from Penn State, she lived with her twin sister in Michigan for one year. Finally fed up with the cold weather, ice and snow, Judit decided she wanted to move somewhere warm. Since she had never lived in the South, she got out a map and decided that Dallas looked like a pretty good bet.
Judit then narrowed her search for a toasty clime to our neighborhood: she wanted to be part of a close knit community within the city. Drawn by all the trees and the proximity to White Rock Lake, Judit quickly found a home she loved here.
"I enjoy living in Lake Highlands because it represents a nice mix of people," she says. "In my neighborhood there are single people, young families and retirees, all living together."
Once written, We Have to Escape was picked up by Royal Fireworks Press, the largest publisher of books for the talented and gifted. Ultimately, Macranczy would like to see this book incorporated into junior high curriculums.
“I’d like to get the book into the schools,” she says.
A web designer by trade, Macranczy has been writing for pleasure for many years. She has another book underway, and ideas for three additional works. She is a member of the North Texas Chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers. She is reluctant to refer to her writing as a mere hobby, but more of a creative compulsion.
“The idea behind the book is not to educate the reader about Hungary, although they will learn something about the country,” Macranczy says. “This book is about overcoming adversity, about tolerance.
“It’s about freedom, and what that word truly means.”
Although not widely available, the book can be special ordered at all major bookstores. It is available for purchase online at Amazon.com, Borders.com and BarnesAndNoble.com, and can also be purchased directly from Royal Fireworks Publishing Company; First Avenue Unionville; New York 10988-0399; 914-726-4444.