It’s 1949 in LA, and 12-year-old Francine is quiet and obedient, both at home with her parents and at her strict Catholic school, where the nuns are always railing against the Communists. Her neighbor, troublemaker Sophie, enrolls at Francine’s school and immediately starts driving the nuns crazy with her constant questioning and irreverent attitude. Despite their differences, Francine is drawn to Sophie’s boldness, and the two become best friends. Francine’s eyes gradually get opened to local politics as she spends more time with Sophie, and with Sophie’s father and his friends, who work in Hollywood. McCarthyism is on the rise, and it appears that Sophie’s father and a friend are being targeted. Francine is shaken at the effect McCarthyism is having, and she takes small steps toward becoming more bold at school and at home. Although her small rebellions are quickly stifled, she doesn’t give up, and in the end, she makes a bold statement. Sophie is full of passion and fury, and Francine slowly comes into her own beliefs. Their world isn’t so different as the sometimes-nasty tenor today’s political debates take on—see if you can spot any similarities to today.
The Loud Silence of Francine Green is a nominee for the Teens Top 10. To request it from the library, click here. If it’s your favorite, don’t forget to vote during Teen Read Week, October 14-20, 2007.
Review by Kathleen @ East Regional Library