Catch You Later Traitor
Throughout most of human history there have been periods when
people's fear of groups they would label as other escalates into full
blown paranoia. There was the Salem witch hunt. Most of us can
remember the aftermath of 9/11 with an if you aren't with us you're
against us mentality and librarians fighting for the right to not turn
over information on our reading habits to Homeland Security. However,
probably the most infamous example in recent history was Joe
McCarthy's Red Scare in the early 50's. The FBI claimed back then
that no one with nothing to hide had anything to fear. Avi's Catch
You Later, Traitor strongly questioned this.
Pete, Avi's protagonist, a twelve-year-old Brooklyn boy,
suddenly is living everykid's nightmare. His teacher is turning his
class and community against him. His classmates shun him. His long
term best friend, Kat, is not allowed to talk to him. Her parents
fear that he's a bad influence. An FBI agent wants to talk to him.
His college professor father may lose his job or even go to jail.
Pete is a Sam Spade fan and an avid reader of detective
magazines. He decides to get to the bottom of the matter. Rather
than answers, though, he turns up more questions. Could the
grandfather he has always been told was dead be still alive? Could he
have an uncle he's never heard of? Who is the informant that
convinced the FBI that his father was a person of interest?
Catch You Later, Traitor is that rare coming-of-age story that
will captivate boys. Avi is up there in the Pantheon of writers for
the preteen bunch and those older kids too often labelled reluctant
readers. His latest offering would be a perfect literary way for a
youngster to finish up summer vacation or start the new school year.
On a personal note, I was a big time fan of Nancy Drew. I was about
Pete's age when some boys and I decided we needed to protect our
families and community from the FBI's most wanted criminals. I have
no recollection of why we thought it was not only possible, but
probable, that these notorious armed and dangerous felons would turn
up in Beverly Massachusetts. We would go to the post office, memorize
their pictures, and make plans for what we would do when we
A great big shout out goes out to all who fight against demagogues
like Joe McCarthy despite the danger of opposing or questioning them.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod