The Case Against My Brother
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The Case Against My Brother is a 2007 young adult mystery by Libby Sternberg, published by Bancroft Press.
It is the fall of 1922. World War I is over, the Jazz Age is beginning, and Americans everywhere fear the spread of Bolshevism.
Orphaned and penniless in Baltimore, Maryland, 15-year-old Carl Matuski and 17-year-old Adam Matuski are forced to move across the continent to live with their Uncle Pete in Portland, Oregon.
Almost from the beginning, homesick Carl desperately wants to return east with his brother, but his plans come acropper when Adam is sought by police for the theft of expensive jewels from his girlfriend’s wealthy home.
Carl, the first-person protagonist, is convinced that Adam is being fingered unfairly. He and his brother are Polish Catholics, and Portland is awash in anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant sentiment. Voters, in fact, are being asked to decide whether Catholic schools, indeed all non-public schools, should be outlawed entirely.
Carl works at one such Catholic school. Fueled by the Ku Klux Klan and other unsavory groups, the campaign touches Carl personally as he strives to clear his brother’s name and solve the mystery: Who really took the jewels, and why?
Carl’s quest forces him to confront the Klan, the local police, and his own fears and insecurities. With the help of a friendly reporter, he follows clues that lead him to a dangerous gambling ring that deals in extortion, blackmail . . . and even murder.
Previously reliant on his older brother for direction and strength, a growingly resourceful Carl learns how to stand on his own two feet and confront painful truths about his fellow man.
The Case Against My Brother is a historical mystery set against the backdrop of the campaign for the Oregon School Question, an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic referendum in 1922 that outlawed parochial and non-public schools in Oregon. Eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the referendum was a sad manifestation of the fear-mongering and paranoia prevalent in post-World War I America.