FBI GIRL: How I Learned to Crack My Father's Code

Maura Conlon-McIvor, Author . Warner $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-446-53310-2

Conlon-McIvor was a Hoover-era FBI agent's daughter, and her diverting memoir tells her story from birth to adolescence while depicting her father as a man so taciturn that she became convinced his every word was code for something else. As a kid, determined to decipher his character and the other silences around her, the author cast herself in an ongoing dream life as a Nancy Drew–type agent. This made her somewhat withdrawn and silent herself, and at her Catholic school she became known as the shy girl. At home her mother and siblings livened things up, even though the condition of Joey, the youngest, born with Down's syndrome, made her father even more remote. Other relatives in the extended Irish-American family, especially Maura's New York uncle Father Jack, provided a sense of a larger world in a home where the picture of J. Edgar Hoover frowned down from the wall. When tragedy struck, playing at secret agent didn't help as it used to, and Conlon-McIvor finally grew into herself. She conveys her time (the 1960s) and setting (Los Angeles) with precision and detail; her feel for story, structure and understatement rightfully earns the poignancy of many moments. Agent, Stephanie Kip Rostan . (Aug. 24)

Forecast: Conlon-McIvor's straightforward, funny memoir will appeal to readers of Jennifer Lauck's Blackbird and Mary Karr's The Liars' Club.

Reviewed on: 07/05/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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