Francine lives down the street from a Hollywood film studio, adores screen dreamboat Montgomery Clift, and sometimes sees her home life as a scene from a movie: Dinner at the Greens. She wishes she were a movie star, brave and glamorous and always ready to say the right thing. In reality, she’s a “pink and freckled” thirteen-year-old, and she doesn’t speak up because she’s afraid she’ll get in trouble. She’s comfortable following her father’s advice: “Don’t get involved.”
That is, until Sophie Bowman transfers into her class at All Saints School for Girls. Fearless, articulate, and passionate, Sophie questions authority and protests injustice. She not only doesn’t care about getting in trouble, she actually seems to be looking for it. And she’s happy to be Francine’s best friend.
The nuns think Sophie is a bad influence on Francine. Francine thinks just the opposite. Because of Sophie, Francine finds herself worrying about things that never bothered her before–the atom bomb, free speech, Communists, the blacklist . . . and deciding, for the first time, that she wants to be heard.
In 1949-50, eighth-grader and nice Catholic girl Francine Green makes friends with outspoken, politically-minded Sophie Bowman. Sophie makes Francine think about the conformity imposed on her, while she worries about the Red Scare, the bomb, and communists. A marvelous evolution of a young mind from unthinking to thinking and wondering, and even, possibly, speaking out against injustices she sees around her. Sophie Great characterizations that make the feelings and fears of the period very real and understandable. I did feel a little let down that we didn't get to witness what she said to Sister Basil in the end.