Local author Larry “L.A.” Doyle’s semi-autobiographical novel “About A Girl” is a coming of age story that delves into rape culture from the perspectives of a rape victim and one of her close friends.
Through the stream of consciousness writing style in “About A Girl,” Doyle presents a profound understanding of rape victimization from a first person perspective. He describes the fear of death and the PTSD-like symptoms in the victim’s behavior, all while keeping the persona of the main character, Suzy, three dimensional and consistent; this can then bring readers to empathize strongly with Suzy, if not to the point of tears.
Throughout the book, he uses the characters and their relationships with each other to dig deeper into rape culture and how it exists in our society, as well as the ways in which it affects victims, even years after the traumatic event.
Briefly, the novel also discusses schizophrenia and its affect on family and friends, as well as the time period of a person’s life when it can develop. The book does not delve deeper into this subject, however, but instead seems more just to lend to the character history of the second main character, Kenny.
The many different versions of awakening in this novel, including sexual, show the spectrum of human experiences; the awakening to the culture of drug abuse and teenage rebellion, which Suzy goes through early in her life, versus the awakening to the understanding of her complicated and intense friendship with an older man, for instance. Each of the characters in this novel exhibit or learn at some point the importance of trust in any relationship, but particularly in friendship.
While many writers switch between two or more characters’ perspectives in novels, few are as clearly defined as in Doyle’s novel. Despite Doyle’s years, he is able to accurately capture the mindset of a newer generation through his use of mature dialogue or stream of consciousness and well–portrayed, chaotic thoughts with modern slang. On the other hand, it is clear that he is also quite intelligent, based on his well-written prose utilizing developed vocabulary and proper sentence structure. These literary strategies help to further differentiate his characters from one another.
From one avid reader to another, “About A Girl” is definitely worth reading!
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