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Catch You Later, Traitor

Review

Catch You Later, Traitor

by Avi
Twelve-year-old Pete Collison is ostracized from class activities when rumors quickly spread that Pete's dad is a Commie (Communist). Worse yet, his best friend Kat won't have anything to do with him. More problems ensue when Pete discovers that the FBI is keeping tabs on him. It also doesn't help that there are complicated family issues; besides the constant friction between Pete and his older brother Bobby, Pete's dad refuses to talk about his past, especially the mysterious disappearance of his father (Pete's grandfather). With no one else to turn to, Pete starts his own investigation. Following in the footsteps of his favorite book and radio character, Sam Spade, Pete not only has to collect and piece together the clues, but also has to nail down the informant.
 
Newbery Medal author Avi combines a detective story with an uncomfortable portion of American history. Avi incorporates elements of his teenage years amid the highly suspicious atmosphere that surrounded the Second Red Scare of the 1950s. Much of Avi's first person narrative is sated with the detective literature that inspired him to become a writer, including Black Mask and Ellery Queen magazines and the novel THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett. Avi also places special emphasis on baseball, especially his favorite team, the New York Giants. And although the majority of Avi's well-developed cast is fictional, he includes real people and situations based on his life, as well as stories of those who went to Russia looking for work during the Great Depression.
While the threat of Communism may have been prevalent in the past, Avi's plot is a stark reminder that terrorism still exists and has evolved into different forms
Avi's coming-of-age story in many ways reflects the essence of families who were unfortunately caught in the snare of McCarthyism. Indeed, Pete represents ordinary teens who want nothing more than to enjoy life to the fullest. But in Pete's case, he is thrust into an adult role in order to survive terrifying environs that are filled with bullying and laced with secrecy. Avi slowly builds cliffhanging chapters by alternating between Pete's investigation, his interactions with Kat and various family members, descriptive Sam-Spade viewpoints and his relationship with a blind man, all while throwing in a mighty handful of twists and turns to keep young readers engaged to the very end.
 
A master storyteller, Avi skillfully weaves common themes that are regrettably relevant in today's American society. While the threat of Communism may have been prevalent in the past, Avi's plot is a stark reminder that terrorism still exists and has evolved into different forms, such as the continued issues of racism and terrorist groups as well as governmental surveillance of American citizens. CATCH YOU LATER, TRAITOR is an eye-opening read that is essential for both home school and classroom settings.

Reviewed by Anita Lock on April 24, 2015

Catch You Later, Traitor
by Avi

  • Publication Date: March 10, 2015
  • Genres: Adventure, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1616203595
  • ISBN-13: 9781616203597