By: Terry Lee Caruthers
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: July 2020
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: March 14, 2021
A girl survives a life-threatening journey that will engender her lifelong wish to protect the helpless, in this dynamic, highly credible novel by Terry Lee Caruthers.
When we first meet Vivie, it is 1956 and she is twelve, preparing to flee with her father, mother, and younger sister Mae as Russian troops assault the city of Budapest. Getting out of Hungary, across the nearest border, is their only chance for safety. It won’t be easy, and for Vivie, one of the hardest things to do is leaving her beloved pet, her cat, Norsk. Her father leads the way through fields and forests, on trains and automobile, hitching rides and camping out with members of the resistance movement. Food is hard to come by and sometimes the things Vivie sees, such as a dismembered hand lying on the ground, will take away what appetite she has. They find safety in Austria, but the harrowing journey has taken its toll on her mother and sister, even as Vivie herself seems to grow stronger – but she will harbor a family secret to the end of her days.
Yet her father has a plan. Eventually, through his contacts, he sends her off with a wealthy couple who will become her foster parents. As she adjusts to a life in the US, enjoying luxury, world travel, educational achievement and great affection from her foster parents, she never forgets the past. And she doesn’t forget Norsk – all through her life, cats will be her contacts and closest companions, helping her to adjust to new situations and seeming to carry messages of remembrance and hope.
Author Caruthers has based this gripping story on the life of a woman with whom she shared a love for feline friends. Vivie was an inspiration, Caruthers says, to all who met her, and bringing her story to light and life as a debut novel was a labor of love. It required considerable research, which gives her account a realistic feeling without burdening the reader with too much detail. The book is suitable for older children as well as adults, with many lessons embedded in its pages and much opportunity for empathy.
Quill says: In all aspects of Vivie’s Secret, the author allows us to feel that we are with Vivie, seeing the chaotic world of revolution and its consequences through the eyes of a sensitive, very observant girl and later, a self-made, successful woman with a mission.
For more information on Vivie's Secret, please visit the author's website at: terryleecaruthers-author.com