Suspect Red

Age Range
Release Date
September 19, 2017
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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.

Editor review

1 review
Excellent Exploration of the Cold War
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Richard and his family live near Washington, D.C., where his father does something secretive for the government. They live in a solid, middle class neighborhood with J. Edgar Hoover and other government employees. When a new boy Richard's age moves in, he's glad to find another kindred spirit who liked J.D. Salinger and other books. Vlad's father also works for the government, but his mother is from Czechoslovakia and seems to have somewhat suspect views. McCarthyism is spreading quickly in 1953, with librarians taking books like Robin Hood off the shelves and lots of public figures being accused of being communist. Richard's father (who was involved in enough mission in WWII that he has some intermittent PTSD) is involved in some of the government missions, and hopes that he can redeem a mission gone wrong by bringing in some treacherous Communists. Richard wrongly thinks that Vlad's mother might be dangerous, and tips off his father. As McCarthy's dictatorial ways start to fall into disrepute, Richard and his father become less and less sure that "witch hunting" Communists is the way to go.
Good Points
The details of daily life were fantastic, right from the beginning, and I didn't find any historical anomalies, which made me very happy! Like Wiles' Sixties Trilogy, the chapter start out with period photos and descriptions of what is going on in history. Unlike the Wiles' books, these are short and well placed, and really speak to what is going on in Richard's life. The comparisons to what is going on in today's government are not explicit, but clearly there. Harry Truman. That's what the government needs right now. Harry Truman.

The plot takes a while to develop, but I was so engrossed with the details of Richard's life that the pacing of the book still kept me interested.

There are starting to be a lot more titles that cover this period of history, and I'm so glad to have this to order for the fall! Brilliant depiction of a singular era in US history. I'll be adding this to my list of books that includes Avi's Catch You Later, Traitor, Holbrook's The Enemy Blakemore's The Spycatcher's of Maple Hill, and Rosengren's Cold War on Maplewood Street.
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