CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
Sophia, who would like to be known as Sophie, has attended far too many schools over her junior high years. Now, in 1974, stinging from constant rejection because her alcoholic father is doing time for murder (unjustly convicted as Sophie sees it), she is determined to forge a new identity as she begins yet again at a new school. She and her beautiful, dramatic, Bulgarian mother decide to pretend that Sophie's father has died. If only they can get their story straight, everyone will sympathize with them, but of course, the devil is in the details. Sophie attaches herself to the blonde clique in her homeroom and, in a series of lucky and well planned events, gradually gains their friendship and trust. Sophie's driving determination and basketball skills land the group on the first string of the junior team, and connections in the Bulgarian community provide her with her job at Mike's soda fountain. She fends off the unwanted attentions of what her delightful, doting Aunties (her mother's best friends) call a "practice boyfriend" while she swoons with desire for a grade twelve football player who is sleeping with his girlfriend. While helping Madison, the leader of the blondes, to find her biological mother, Sophie is recognized, and the truth about her father comes out, but too late, however, for tragedy, as Madison is not only grateful for Sophie's discovery of her grandmother, but she also claims Sophie as a true friend.
Sophie begins several letters to her father, pushed to contact him as his bi-weekly phone calls seem to be destroying her mother's well being, but ends up crumpling them up. After thirteen tries she finally manages to bus to Kingston and take a taxi to the penitentiary to see her father, as she has matured enough to deal with his incarceration. Over the grade 9 year, Sophie learns to distinguish between the lies that she tells, the place holders, as Mike puts it, that are there until others can accept the truth, and the eternal truth of friendship and love.
Joan Marshall, a recently retired teacher-librarian turned Winnipeg bookseller, remembers vividly the blonde cliques and wishes she had had Sophie's courage.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.