How I Learned to Crack My Father’s Code
The Los Angeles Times Bestseller
“I lie in bed at night with my yellow daisy sheets up to my nose, and Dad comes into my bedroom to snap shut my window. He does not explain why he locks everything up, but I have figured it out: The world is full of criminals, and it is the job of my father, Special Agent Joe Conlon, to keep them out of our house.”
In a house teeming with life, young Maura, voted the Most Quiet Girl in Catholic school, notices everything but says little. Eager to penetrate the secret world of her father, FBI agent Joe Conlon, she is drawn to the bureau drawer where he places his badge at night.
The time is the late 1960s, and Vietnam and the Cold War are fomenting unrest outside Maura’s suburban Los Angeles home. Inside, the Conlons and their five children are still bound by tradition: baseball games, Sunday dinner of roast beef and mashed potatoes, and The FBI on TV. Under the watchful gaze of J. Edgar Hoover’s picture, Maura’s mother, a former New York bathing beauty, remains a homemaker even as she slips out for assertiveness training.
And there’s the one unshakable rule of all: Joe Conlon never talks about his job. In fact, he rarely speaks at all. Believing that he communicates in code, Maura is determined to crack it. She uses clues gleaned from Nancy Drew mysteries, eavesdrops on adult conversations, and spins larger-than-life fantasies in her head, with her youngest brother, Joey, who has Down syndrome, at her side.
But her flights of fancy turn sober with a murder in the family. Suddenly her father’s silence speaks volumes, and she learns a lesson from him about fierce love during a time of devastating loss.
Bathed in luminous nostalgia, resonating with hilarious and painful memories, FBI Girl is the coming-of-age story of a highly imaginative girl and a passionate homage to family bonds, the trials that test them, and the triumphs that make them stronger.