Boy Underground

Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing

Hugo hates that he’s not friends with Alex and Julie any more. They’ve drifted apart, like the continents did millions of years ago. Now Julie spends all her spare time swimming for the school team, and Alex and his new mates bully Hugo, calling him ‘Spy’ because he often wears sunglasses. Hugo’s eyes are sensitive to light, he loves facts and maps and has a photographic memory. When he learns about the tunnels and catacombs under Paris, where he lives, he knows that this dark, quiet place will be where he belongs.

And so begins an underground adventure involving robbers, secret passages, monsters – and true courage. Hugo can only be himself, with his differently wired brain. It’s up to others whether they like him or not.

It’s important to acknowledge that the author isn’t autistic herself, but she’s based Hugo on her son. There is a note at the start highlighting that this story is not intended to represent all experiences of autism. Hugo does talk about being autistic, and how certain things upset him or calm him. But his experience of his friends drifting away from him, and wanting to reverse this change, is universal. There is lots to enjoy in this book – humour and a cracking adventure, for instance – and lots to take from it.

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