Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot
Review by Lauren
source: copy for review; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): 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.
Review: Suspect Red was a fascinating book, and it’s something I’d recommend to many. When I read historical fiction, it tends to focus on WWII…with the rare book about some other time period. Suspect Red is all about the Cold War and the fear that gripped the United States; the fear that Joe McCarthy used to go after people from all walks of life who he believed to be communist or close to communists (including family members they refuse to denounce). I’d say Suspect Red is a YA book, but at the same time, it could easily be an MG book too, so I’d give it to any pre-teen or teen who expresses an interest or who might enjoy it.Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot: a historical fiction book about the Cold War- highly recommend! #bookreview #ontheblog Click To Tweet
One of the things that I love about Suspect Red is that there are photos and various information about the time period before each new chapter. This really helps place the reader in that time and allows them to learn more without the book reading too much like a textbook. I know I don’t know a ton about the Cold War, so I learned things too!
In the book, it’s easy to feel for Richard. His dad works for the government and he wants to do something that will make his dad, and country proud, so he definitely buys into McCarthyism to an extent. At the same time, he’s made a new friend in Vlad whose family is a lot more liberal than anyone Richard has personally met. He’s not sure how anti-communism and Vlad’s family match up, so it’s a struggle for him. No, he doesn’t always do the right thing, but it felt realistic for the time period and for the fact that he’s still a kid.
If you like historical fiction – or want to read more of it – definitely look into Suspect Red!