How does loyalty to country, to family and to the local baseball team define one’s life?
Pete is a typical seventh-grade Brooklyn boy until the Red Scare of the early 1950s upends his life. Instead of just playing punchball and fervently following the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio, Pete finds himself trying to unravel the politics of his family history, one filled with Communist Party joiners and sympathizers. The FBI labels his father a red sympathizer and is trying to find his missing grandfather, who went to Russia in the 1930s, by turning family members into informers. Pete’s teacher, as easily swayed as so many others, turns the class against him, and his best friend, a girl, is forbidden to talk to him. In an act of rebellion, he embraces New York’s other National League baseball team, the Giants. He also enjoys reading Dashiell Hammett’s novels about Sam Spade and thinks in the detective’s voice, hoping that someday he, too, will be a “hard-boiled detective.” Avi builds Pete’s story, told in the first person, with page-turning tension and memorable characters that will leave readers with a strong sense of the insidious power wielded by the FBI and McCarthyites.
A thought-provoking story about suspicion, trust and a memorable pennant race from a one-time Brooklyn boy. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)