by Claire Hennessy (Author)
Stereotype charts the progress of its narrator, Abigail
Evans, as she negotiates the difficulties of being 17 at a
middle-class, all-girls Dublin school. The various
teenage cliques with their different hairstyles and music
tastes are sharply observed, and many teenagers will
recognise the narrator’s anxiety as she moves between
these groups and tries to avoid stereotype.
The serious subjects of underage drinking, self-harm
and confused sexualities are all dealt with here. Some
readers may find the treatment of these themes to be
superficial, as the narrator is faced only with a hangover
and some embarrassment after her drunken
escapades. The novel does leave plenty of room for
discussion, though, particularly concerning self-harm,
which is perhaps of more use to its readership than a
moral or didactic tone could be.
Hennessy’s style is very readable. There is plenty of
dialogue, and most of the writing is in the present
tense, giving the novel a familiar, chatty tone. The
story is divided into lots of very short chapters, similar
to diary entries. A problem with the first-person narrative
is that Abigail’s personality dominates entirely.
The other teenagers, especially the boys, are twodimensional
figures, and Abigail’s family are drawn to
stereotype to the extent that they seem to have no
physical presence at all.
Despite this flaw, the novel would be enjoyable for
girls aged 14–16, and for reluctant readers at the
higher end of secondary school.