Story of adolescence depicts stereotypical, broad characters

Daily Arts Writer
Published March 7, 2001

With a nod towards teenage angst, Louisa Luna takes on the struggles of early adolescence in her first novel, "Brave New Girl." Aimed primarily at young adults, this book tackles the issues of acceptance, insecurity and betrayal experienced by all.

"Brave New Girl" takes the reader through a very brief yet pivotal moment in the life of a socially alienated fourteen-year-old named Doreen Severna. Her mundane life, which is spent avoiding her family and listening to The Pixies with her only friend Ted, is interrupted by the introduction of her sister"s latest boyfriend, Matthew. His strange words and stranger actions lead Doreen to believe that perhaps her life won"t always be so pointless. Matthew is the person who forces Doreen to mend the relationships in her life, though not through conventional methods. Matthew presents Doreen with the biggest challenge of her life, and in the face of it, Doreen comes to the realization that she does not have to face her struggles alone.

Louisa Luna attempts to cast an image of a modern Holden Caulfield through a journey of personal enlightenment by Doreen, the rebellious social outcast. Understood by neither her family nor her peers, Doreen finds acceptance in her music, as well as in her best friend, Ted.

Much like Doreen, Ted battles rejection and torment from peers who have no comprehension of his personal issues. Misunderstood and underestimated, Doreen and Ted are written to embody stereotypical teenagers, committed only to nonconformity and each other.

By depicting these characters in terms of such broad stereotypes, Luna may be attempting to make Doreen"s story "every girl"s" story. Initially, she is more successful in frustrating the reader with the over-use of exaggerated teenage clichs. However, the trivialization of Doreen"s character combined with the brutal reality that she must face at the hand of Matthew, speaks directly to the need for recognition of one another"s individuality.