The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the striking portrait of an unusual person, a young filmmaker, from the viewpoints of various lovers, acquaintances, relatives, and movie reviewers. The various chapters are possibly interviews for the documentary about her.
The first story about Sophie is one of betrayal. Allison meets Sophie at a storytelling event where Allison decides to tell a story. She makes up a tale about a murder, but later Sophie is able to get her to tell the real story, about how the boy who she’d made the murderer in her story actually raped her. Sophie is a beginning film maker, and she asks Allison to be in her movie. They also begin a torrid affair.
But Sophie uses her knowledge of the rape to manipulate Allison into giving a better performance in the horror movie. The movie, Marianne, becomes a cult classic as explained in the humorously egotistical review by R. Martin.
Gradually, we see how Sophie was mistreated or ignored in school. But Robbie, Sophie’s brother, understands her a little better than others do. He tells about Sophie’s beginning as a filmmaker, when she started following a popular basketball player named Daniel around her college campus with a camera. This episode ends with Cece, Daniel’s girlfriend, getting friends to shave off all of Sophie’s hair. Sophie uses that event to interesting effect in her movie, too.
Gradually, a picture builds of a woman struggling to express herself. She doesn’t understand people, she says, but she knows how she wants things to look. She can’t explain her feelings even to her brother. She does what she must, destroying relationships in the process. I imagine someone on some part of the autism spectrum.
We never hear from Sophie herself, but her story is oddly powerful. This is the second book for North, whose America Pacifica is a young adult dystopian novel.