Brooklyn, New York, 1951.
Twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas, but when an FBI agent shows up at Pete’s doorstep accusing his father of being a Communist, Pete finds himself caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete’s family? At the same time, Pete’s class turns against him, thanks to similar rumors spread by his own teacher; even Kat, Pete’s best friend, feels the pressure to ditch him. As Pete follows the quickly accumulating clues, he begins to wonder if the truth could put his family’s livelihood–and even their freedom–at risk.
In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book Nothing But the Truth, Avi’s newest novel tells a funny, insightful story packed with realistic period detail of a boy in mid-twentieth-century America. Its unique look at what it felt like to be an average family caught in the wide net of the Red Scare has powerful relevance to contemporary questions of democracy and individual freedoms.
About the Book:
Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (March 10, 2015)
Catch You Later, Traitor is about Pete, a young boy that starts investigating his family’s secrets. The book has a fairly slow pace, but like most of Avi’s plots, there is a point to everything. Personally, I liked the slow build up and the way Pete gathers information over the course of the story. I liked the mystery surrounding his father. I liked the characters. They were complex, realistic individuals that made believable choices and mistakes. They all had a motive for what they were doing.
Of course, I didn’t love absolutely everything about the book, but most of those things were due to personal interests. I read so many books that it’s difficult to find one that I truly enjoy, but this was one of them. It was a treat to read a book and slip into that world so completely. Part of what made this book so interesting to me was Pete’s experience with his teacher, Mr. Donovan. I had a weirdly similar experience at about the same age. I also liked the questions the book raised about freedom of speech, individual rights, and the welfare of the public.
This is a great book for middle grade readers, especially if they like baseball, detective stories, and don’t mind the slow buildup.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.