Friday, June 12, 2015

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi

There was a time in American history when the specter of Communism loomed large in the national consciousness and the FBI was tasked with determining whom among us held views that went against the American Way. Agents used a variety of methods to help in this quest.

The main character in the novel Catch you Later, Traitor is a kid called Pete who lives a regular life in New York City but things change drastically when his teacher accuses him of having a Communist father. Pete, a fan of detective radio shows and comic books, begin to use his budding detective skills to prove that his dad is no Communist. What he discovers however are some secrets that will forever change him.

Avi  uses elements from his childhood growing up in the time of the Cold War and it is amazing how much things have changed but still remain the same. Some of the food Pete encounters are new to him but are ubiquitous now. Pizza for example is a huge treat for him back then whereas people eat it literally for all three meals.

This novel explores various themes as well, among them family, marriage, friendship. Avi uses a light touch however so the reader does not get bogged down with the details. Pete does not have the closest relationship with his older brother Bobby and their encounters are usually short and terse. Pete is very close to his father however and their bond is strengthened through the trying circumstances in which they find themselves. Pete has also placed various extended family members in neatly defined categories but this changes as the plot unfolds.

Friendship is a major part of the story also and Pete finds his friendship with his best friend, a girl called Kat, sorely tested. In the climate of the day friends who were loyal were hard to come by since there were many government agents bent on rooting out anyone with suspected Communist ties.

Avi lives here in Denver and even checks out books from a branch of my library system (how cool is that!). I am ashamed to say that this is the first of his books that I have read but it will not be the last. I recommend it for ages 9+.

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