Two rich southern girls meet at finishing school in 1963, but neither is a belle. Laurel Hollingsworth, our narrator, is fat. Beautiful, brainy Prentiss Granger is more concerned with military strategy than with flirting, though she does muster up enough interest in boys to get pregnant. Subsequently, her redoubtable father, the Major, allows her to go away to Duke U. if Laurel will be her roommate and keep her out of further trouble. But Laurel covers for her friend and lies to the Major as Prentiss becomes increasingly involved in antiwar politics. When Prentiss goes underground, she lands on the Ten Most Wanted List, and Laurel dodges FBI agents in order to provide money and moral support. While Prentiss is in hiding, her mother dies of cancer and her younger brother kills himself. Laurel teaches slum kids in Chicago, loses weight, has an affair with a handsome womanizer, and begins to deal with the Major on terms of mutual respect. Meanwhile, Prentiss has a baby, thinks about turning herself in, and compiles oral histories in the Southwest until her death in a tragic, uh, accident. Convictions, a first novel, is loaded with essays about the Sixties, and words like ""in retrospect,"" ""inevitable,"" and ""irrevocable."" In the end, promising material adds up to a disappointingly dull book.