Suspect red

Laura Elliott, 1957-

Book - 2017

In 1950s Washington, D.C., teenaged Richard, a bookworm whose father works for the FBI, experiences effects of McCarthyism, beginning with book banning and ending with a threat to his half-Czech friend.

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Historical fiction
Los Angeles : Disney-Hyperion 2017.
First edition
Physical Description
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and filmography.
Main Author
Laura Elliott, 1957- (author)
Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7–10—This McCarthy-era novel is told in monthly vignettes from June 1953 to June 1954. Richard's father Don works for J. Edgar Hoover's FBI during its frenzy to locate Communist sympathizers. Richard frames life through books—The Catcher in the Rye, Ian Fleming's novels, and other works his mother looks down upon. Richard's poet soul can't help but approve of his new neighbor Vladimir White, a cool cat who reads widely and speaks his mind. Vladimir's Jewish mother Teresa is from Czechoslovakia, and Richard shares information about Teresa with his father. Repercussions from the reports cause a rift between the two friends. Told in third person limited, this historical novel is filled with Richard's naive, offbeat humor. Readers may slow during the protagonist's copious slang, pop culture, and political references but its inclusion makes for a rich historical setting. The author refers to the protagonist's parents by first names, which may seem confusing. Nonetheless, Richard's literature-driven ideas, his awkward intimacy with his sister Ginny, and his rare friendship with Vladimir make his experiences as memorable as they are painful. The book's formatting is integral to its impact. Each chapter begins with red and black graphic art, articles from the era, and primary source photographs. The red pages add to the ominous paranoia presented in the book. An extensive afterword provides additional information on events of the time. Richard's interest in the opposite sex, some language, and his sophisticated morality indicate an upper middle school audience. Pair this with Marc Aronson's Master of Deceit on Hoover for another look at this unsettling epoch. VERDICT A good purchase for curricular tie-ins and fans of historical fiction.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A tale inspired by the suspicion and xenophobia of the McCarthy era follows the friendship between an FBI employee's son and a Czechoslovakian newcomer who share a common interest in literature until their bond is tested by spiraling national paranoia. By the award-winning author of Under a War-Torn Sky. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In 1950s Washington, D.C., teenaged Richard, a bookworm whose father works for the FBI, experiences effects of McCarthyism, beginning with book banning and ending with a threat to his half-Czech friend.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

It's 1953, and the United States has just executed an American couple convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. Everyone is on edge as the Cold War standoff between communism and democracy leads to the rise of Senator Joe McCarthy and his zealous hunt for people he calls subversives or communist sympathizers. Suspicion, loyalty oaths, blacklists, political profiling, hostility to foreigners, and the assumption of guilt by association divide the nation. Richard and his family believe deeply in American values and love of country, especially since Richard's father works for the FBI. Yet when a family from Czechoslovakia moves in down the street with a son Richard's age named Vlad, their bold ideas about art and politics bring everything into question.Richard is quickly drawn to Vlad's confidence, musical sensibilities, and passion for literature, which Richard shares. But as the nation's paranoia spirals out of control, Richard longs to prove himself a patriot, and blurred lines between friend and foe could lead to a betrayal that destroys lives.Punctuated with photos, news headlines, ads, and quotes from the era, this suspenseful and relatable novel by award-winning New York Times best-selling author L.M. Elliott breathes new life into a troubling chapter of our history.