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The Loud Silence of Francine Green

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  688 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Francine Green doesn’t speak up much, and who can blame her? Her parents aren’t interested in her opinions, the nuns at school punish girls who ask too many questions, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities is blacklisting people who express unpopular ideas. There’s safety in silence. Francine would rather lose herself in a book, or in daydreams about her favori
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 14th 2006 by Clarion Books (first published 2006)
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internat librarian
This book provides a good look at how confused, paranoid and misleading the US government and education system was, concerning the threat of communism and nuclear war in the 1950s. Communism: bad to the point of being satanic. Nuclear weapons: good if we have them; bad if the commies have them; easy to protect yourself as long as there’s a bomb shelter, ditch, or school desk nearby. It would be funny if it wasn’t so honest and sad.

Francine is a very believable and confused young girl. I like ho
I read this book to see if it would be a good selection for our mother-daughter book club for my tween daughter. When she first tackled it, she didn't know enough about the Red Scare period in history to make sense of what was going on. She tripped up on the cultural references that I lapped up. Montgomery Clift is dreamy, for example.

Then we went to the MOHAI museum and there just happened to be an interactive game about the Washington state's own version of the Committee on Un-American Activit
Karen Cushman’s new historical fiction book is modern compared to her other novels. The Loud Silence of Francine Green takes place in 1950’s Los Angeles during the height of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Thirteen year old Francine attends All Saints School for Girls, and is constantly being told, by her parents, her teachers, and her confessor, to keep quiet and do as she is told. On the other hand, her new best friend, Sophie, encourages her, by example, to speak out against what is wrong and ...more
Original review at The Little Bookworm

Francine lives in America in 1949/1950 at the beginning of the Cold Ward when everyone was fearful of Communists and bombs and Senator McCarthy was beginning his inquiries. She is a quiet girl who wants nothing more than to stay out of trouble. She cannot even write a big part for herself in the screenplay in her head. But when Francine meets the irrepressible Sophie, things begin to change for Francine and she begins to think outside of her own neighborhood
I have mixed feelings about this book. I usually love Karen Cushman, but felt the research was sloppy in this one. Would a K-8 Catholic school for girls in 1949 have a copy of A Tree Grow in Brooklyn in its library, and would it be considered a safe alternative for book reports? Would a Catholic high school put on a production of Oklahoma? Sure, those are classics today, but that just doesn't ring true for 1949-50 school year. Also, I don't know what to think about the ending. Sure, it packs a w ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Lena rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Recommended to Lena by: Anna
My sister has been trying to get me to read this book for ages. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner, but I'm glad I eventually did! It was a great, touching book for young adults. It's probably most appealing to the 10-12 year old crowd, but had enough interesting points to keep me reading even though usually I find those books a little below my interest level. This one really caught my emotions and held on. I loved reading about the 'red scare' and the Catholic school environment that Fran ...more
This YA novel covers a time period most teens probably don't know much about-the blacklisting of actors thought to be members of the communist party. Francine, with the help of her friend Sophie, slowly begins to realize the unfairness of this. She gradually gains enough confidence to speak up about it. An interesting part of history seen through the eyes of a teen, but also a good example of a teen fighting for what he/she thinks is right.
Karen Cushman is a favorite YA author of the Neewbery Medal book "The Midwife's Apprentice, and the Newbery Honor book "Catherine, Called Birdy" all set in medieval England. In this novel, Francine Green is a thoroughly American thirteen year old living in Los Angeles in 1949-50. The history and recollections of that period of time in the U.S. is so interesting and so horrifying.....the Communists and McCarthyism, the blacklist, the atom bomb and injustice. Adding to Francine's personal problems ...more
One of the social studies teachers recommended that I read this one. Karen Cushman is a good author so I decided to give it a try.

I really liked the discussion guide at the back of the book because this book raises so many historical and current issues: friendship, getting along, being popular, the McCarthy era, blacklisting, etc.

I also liked watching Francine grow. She really comes into her own by the end of the book and I think part of the reason she comes into her own because she listens and
This historical fiction is set in a time I hadn't read much about before--around 1950. Thirteen year old Francine, who attends an all girls Catholic school, makes a new friend named Sophie, who is not like other girls. She's sassy, asks hard questions, and knows all about world events. Francine struggles with family and growing up issues that all girls will relate to, as well as world events such as fear of the atom bomb and Communists, and finally seeing her country trample people's rights to f ...more
This is a really lovely book. Set just after the second World War, the novel captures the feeling of the times perfectly. Francine's world is simple-- she lives in a classic "father knows best" family, goes to a Cathlic girl's school, and keeps her head down. Then she befriends rebel Sophie, and neighbors start coming under suspicion for no good reason, and life gets a lot more complicated. Francine wants a world in black and white, where she knows what to believe and whom to hate. And she wants ...more
Mary Drew
I love Karen Cushman - I need to add other books of hers that I read to my Goodreads shelves.

Karen writes historical fiction for younger teens, but good enough for older readers. This particular gem takes place in California in 1949/50 and does a good job of recalling the era after WWII and before the Korean War when we first became caught up in the arms race. Cushman uses her 8th grade character, Francine Green, to highlight the confusing and hypocritical rhetoric that characterized that era. H
Theophilus (Theo)
It was ok. I don't venture into young adult literature often, but this was definitely worth a detour from my usual historical fiction and African Americans in American history diet. The story takes place in early 1950s Hollywood. Far enough from my midwestern childhood to be intriguing and somehow familiar. The main character Francine Green is in middle school during her transition years from child to young woman. She meets and becomes best friends with a girl who was just kicked out of her las ...more
“The Loud Silence of Francine Green”
I found this book really interesting. My favorite quote of the book was, “I just want to live my life without any problems, without getting into any trouble". This is true, Francine doesn't speak up much. Her parents aren't interested in her opinions, this makes Francine be quieter and not really have any opinions and never speak her mind. The nuns at school punish girls who ask too many questions, so the idea of ever speaking out in school frightens Francine.
Shelley Daugherty
Francine is constantly trying to do the 'right' thing so when she makes friends with Sophie, her world is turned completely upside down. Sophie is passionate about the things she believes in and wants her questions about life answered, which doesn't go over well at All Saints School for Girls. Francine is torn between her loyalty as a best friend and the life she was taught by her father which included the advice "don't get involved". When fear begins to run high about possible atomic bombs, Sop ...more
My favorite quote from the book: "Unlike most Catholic girls, I'd never wanted to be a nun. I thought about being a saint sometimes---it seemed the highest calling to which a Catholic girl could aspire, since Mother of God was already taken---but never a nun."

I would recommend this book to a high school teacher trying to find a way to supplement curriculum about the 1950s and the red scare. A kid reading it would have to be really interested in contemporary history to want to pick up this book b
One of the reasons I like this book, is because I feel like I have a lot in common with the main character, Francine. Francine is quiet, timid, shy, obedient, and is always trying to avoid conflict or trouble of any kind. she has a pretty and popular older sister, but feels that she is hopeless. All of these things also describe me at the age of 13.

Another reason I like this book is the setting. I love to learn about the 1950's, I love the music, fashions, slang, cars, jukeboxes, drive-in movie
This is one of those books I don't seek out but I'm glad I stumbled on. The book is set in California in 1949- 1950. Francine attends a strict Catholic school and tries to never cause any trouble. She makes friends with a girl down the street that gets in trouble for her outspoken, and impulsive nature. The friend's father is a Hollywood writer with liberal political leanings.
I liked the look into Francine's family and life at the school. As her friend speaks her mind and questions things, Fran
Maureen Milton
When a recorded book has as irritating a narrator as this one, I don't usually continue to listen, but my 11- year-old was enjoying it, so I gritted my teeth. Alas, while Cushman is renowned for her historical fiction, this more modern title (set in the 1950s in LA) fell flat for this listener in characterization, plot, & historic detail. I agree with a previous reviewer that it is unlikely that in an all-girls' Catholic school, an 8th grader would have been encouraged to read "A Tree Grows ...more
Apr 25, 2008 Waffle...♥ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Not much.
Recommended to Waffle...♥ by: Ruth... though she just like the cover so she had me read it.
Fairly interesting and educational but plain boring. I was okay with it for a while the ending just plain BORED me. It was simply pathetic. Sweet, she found her courage... to tell her teacher that she THREW THE WASTEBASKET INTO THE FIRE? On purpose? And what kind of standing up will that do? What pure good would it do besides making a teacher mad and punish you severely?

This book takes place During the end of 1949 and the 1950's. The years of the 'Cold War'. It is after the pathetic and painful
I am always uncertain on how to rate a book. I liked this book very much, but I'm not sure how Junior High students will like it. I identified with the quiet girl who tried to fly under the radar and never get into trouble (and the conflict this caused in standing up with courage for things she belived to be right). The setting is the late 1940's and early 1950's during the Cold War and was a little before my time. Still I remember the duck and cover drills we had at school in case we were attac ...more
May 20, 2015 Deborah added it
Shelves: reviewed, 2015
This book gives a clear and human picture of a time most of us have heard about, but don’t have a sense for. Knowing what McCarthyism and the Red Scare did isn’t the same as knowing what it was like to live through that time, so reading about it in this way was particularly interesting.

I like that Francie isn’t at the heart of anything—she’s an ordinary person, as most of us are. So the period through her eyes is tangible on a level it wouldn’t be in history books.
Los Angeles in the age of McCarthyism.

In 1949, thirteen-year-old Francine goes to Catholic school where she becomes best friends with Sophie, who questions authority and is frequently punished by the bullying nuns. Francine, who has been taught by her family to keep quiet and out of trouble, begins to question and see the hypocrisy and contradiction of those teachings, as well as those she is forced to accept from the school.

Conformity is ugly.
Francine has always been the type of girl to do as she's told and not question authority. It seems to be the best way to survive in a strict Catholic School. It all begins to change, though, when she befriends the new outspoken and rebellious girl, Sophie Bowman, in the year of 1949-1950. Sophie continually questions what she is begin told to do, insisting that it is her duty to stand up to her right to free speech. Most people, especially their teacher, Sister Basil the Great, do not appreciate ...more
Surprisingly enjoyed this book. Had to read it for a grad class. Loved the voice and style. My favorite chapter is the one towards the beginning about paper dolls. :)

Francine is a young teenage girl growing up during the 1950's. She is obsessed with movie stars and likes to read. She meets the outgoing and outrageous Sophie and experiences her first best friend. She attends an all-girl Catholic school in Los Angeles where she keeps quiet and stays out of trouble with the evil Sister Basil. Howev
Stephanie Jobe
It is 1949 but at first the Cold War doesn’t mean that much to an eighth grade girl in Catholic school in Hollywood. Francine’s number one goal is to stay out of trouble until Sophie becomes her best friend and she learns that sometimes trouble can have purpose. The Hollywood blacklisting during the Red Scare has always intrigued me. This book nearly lost me until we finally got to the real McCarthy era stuff. At first I thought one more gee, jeepers or ye gods and I would soon go homicidal. How ...more
I really like Karen Cushman's style. One of my favorite authors of children's historical fiction. This one is quite different from her medieval stories, and I wasn't sure I'd like it after the first chapter or so, but it grew on me. About a girl living through the MacCarthy era, and how she learns to think for herself and stand up for what she thinks, and befriend others who are different. The non-conformity message sometimes seemed like just a "let's break the rules to show people we think for ...more
Kim Mack
I found myself not very impressed with this one. I found the main character development slow at the start and rushed at the end. I also felt like there were some points which were not believable for me, or didn't match. For example, a 13 year old so fascinated with Hollywood, actors, movies, and constantly reading star magazines to not have a clue about McCarthy's hunt for communists seemed quite odd. Another example is that this girl has been myopic for most of the book and suddenly wants to ta ...more
I will read anything by Karen Cushman, and this book justifies that sentiment. Like all of her previous offerings, the novel follows the trials and travails of an insightful girl trying to manage growing up in a challenging environment. In her first foray out of the medieval and frontier settings she pitches her protagonist, Francine Green, against McCarthyism and the red scare. As we follow Francine through her eighth grade experience in a Los Angeles Catholic school she tries to make sense of ...more
Good, but too short. More of a vignette. Needed to be twice the length so it actually conveyed a full story. Seemed more mature than Cushman's usual, and it needed the extra length that would go with that. Cold War is something of a unique setting for YA/middle grade, so kudos for that!
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What's The Name o...: YA 1950's Romance, Cold War, Friendship /s 3 37 Apr 11, 2014 11:44AM  
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla
More about Karen Cushman...

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“Fathers should make you feel safe.” 14 likes
“It's important to know what you think, my dear, or else you will be so hemmed in by other people's ideas and opinions, you won't have room for your own.” 11 likes
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