“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” That quote from the Bible was the theme of a commencement address given at a Virginia college by American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shortly after Donald Trump fired him. Tillerson warned that when leaders lie and people accept those lies, it won’t be long before freedom is lost.
Interestingly that same Bible verse about truth and freedom appears a number of times in a novel for middle-grade readers by Winnipeg author Jodi Carmichael. Much of the story in her Family of Spies is set in 1944 just before the end of World War II. The action happens during a period of time when Hitler is trying to conceal the truth and make the German people accept his alternate reality.
Jodi’s inspiration for the book grew out of the fact that the records detailing her grandfather Edward Crawford’s service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II remain sealed to this day. Why? Could he have been a spy? In her book, Jodi imagines that three of Edward’s great-grandchildren have arrived in Paris on a family vacation. They have a suitcase of their great grandfather’s belongings and hatch a plan to try to figure out the mystery surrounding his military service.
I attended the launch of Jodi’s book and she had some of her grandfather’s memorabilia on display, including his war medals and a photograph of him after the Newfoundland native was named a Rhodes Scholar.
Jodi wrote Family of Spies while living in Europe so she was able to visit the important sites in Paris where the action in her novel takes place. That ‘feet on the ground’ research is evident in her vivid descriptions of French landmarks.
As Jodi’s heroes Ford, Ellie and Gavin explore Paris, trying to discover the truth about their great grandfather’s past, they also discover some truths about themselves and their relationships with one another. I really liked that about the book.
Jodi is a member of the children’s writers group I meet with twice a month. I have just finished the first draft of a novel based on an event in my own grandfather’s life. Jodi’s success with Family of Spies gives me a tiny bit of hope that I may be able to get my novel published as well. Jodi is a successful writer and I so appreciate her willingness to share her expertise with our writing group. You can find out more about Jodi and the other books she has published on her website.