Loud Silence of Francine Green

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman.

Cushman, known for her incredible teen novels set in medieval times, breaks from that time period up into the 1950s with great success.  This is the story of Francine Green, a teen who lives in Hollywood and adores all things to do with movies, especially Montgomery Clift.  Francine is a quiet girl, always worried about doing the right thing and avoiding trouble.  When she becomes best friends with fearless Sophie, she struggles with her own need to not be in the spotlight.  Sophie is loud, brash and always getting into trouble, often seemingly deliberately.  As the world around them begins to change, Francine is forced to examine whether she can stay quiet as McCarthyism begins to affect the people she loves. 

As always Cushman’s prose is inventive, gloriously clear, and inviting.  She has created two teenage girls who are polar opposites but manage to be best friends.  Both of the teens as well as their very different families ring true with the adults becoming more human throughout the novel. 

This is an important novel for teens today to read.  The parallels between McCarthyism and today’s American society are alarming.  Teens will feel themselves called to be vocal about the changes we see happening around us today.  Recommend this novel for classroom sharing and discussion.  It will generate it.  I would also recommend it for book talking.