Catch Me If You Can is a memoir by Frank Abagnale, who at the age of FIFTEEN years old, started pretending to be an airline pilot, and everyone around him believed him. By the age of 18, he had moved on to pretending to be a doctor and went on to accidentally become the chief pediatrics resident for a year, and then the next year he pretended to be a lawyer! This book was just so incredible, and it really goes to show you that if you act confident, you really can go a long way.
Even if you don’t typically read non-fiction, then I highly recommend this book. It’s a great book to get into non-fiction with and shows that it can be just as immensely readable and un-putdownable as any fiction book. And did I mention this was turned into a movie starring Leonadro DiCaprio and Tom Hanks? And then it went on to become a Broadway musical as well.
This book had me from page one, and it got me out of my month long book slump that I was in. It was just what I needed.
I don’t want to give too many details about the book because it’s just a fun ride, but I do want to talk about a few things:
It’s no secret that he eventually gets caught (because he published this book while he’s still alive), but not before evading the FBI numerous times! Some of the ways he evaded them were just so creative and hilarious – like he escaped from an airplane after it landed by exiting through the toilet.
But before that, he was eventually caught in France, where he was sentenced to a year in prison. And the chapter describing his time there was just gruesome and horrific. I can’t believe that the way France treats prisoners was allowed in the 20th century, much less still allowed in 2018! It disgusted me so much I have no words for it. I don’t have the stomach for it right now, but maybe later I’ll add a couple of passages from the book here to demonstrate exactly what I mean. I honestly never even want to visit France after reading this if the government and people there are okay with treating human beings like animals.
After six months, he was somehow let go and then extradited to Sweden, which is now my favorite country ever because they treat their prisoners so much better. Prisoners don’t just sit around in jail cells and can actually contribute to society. When Frank told the officer in his case that he wasn’t co-operating because he didn’t want to spend 20 years, she laughed at him. Why? Because in Sweden, even murderers don’t spend more than 10 years in prison typically! For his crime, he would only be sentenced to one.
Eventually, he came back to America and was sentenced to 12 years in prison (not before evading the FBI a few more times, though). He served 4 and then was put on probation, and this is another problem the book highlights: the difficulty for prisoners to get honest work after being in prison. He would get hired for a job, do so well that they would want to promote him to manager, but then they’d run a background check and discover that he’s a convicted felon and fire him. And repeat. That happened to him several times and it’s so disheartening. Something about this whole system needs to be changed if we really want to rehab ‘criminals’.
I absolutely loved this book, but if I had any negative thing to say, it would be this: several times throughout the book we read about the FBI agent, O’Reilly, who’s on his case and trying to catch him. He nearly misses him several times, but by the time we get to the end, we don’t even get to see a single confrontation with him, and I feel like the book ended rather abruptly. But again, I can’t highly recommend this book enough.
If you enjoyed this book, you will also enjoy:
Suits, a tv show in which the main character also pretends to be a Harvard-educated lawyer.
Imposters, a tv show in which a group of people are conned by the same woman and end up becoming con men/women themselves.
Know any others similar to it? If so, comment and let me know!