Camila, the leading lady in Cat Life by Brazilian author Clarah Averbuck, may spend nearly 90 pages pining over the love of her life, Antonio, but that doesn't make her weak.
Averbuck says her heroine is somewhat based on her own life experience. "I fell in love, I was young. ... You know, the first time you realize [it's] not going to work the way you think it's going to work, you get all crushed," she tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More.
Averbuck says Camila is a multidimensional woman, which she often finds lacking in fiction for women. "There is something that annoys me a lot in female characters; they don't have lots of flaws. ... It's not that [Camila is] weak, but she's fragile."
Averbuck says she wanted to tell the complicated story of young women in Brazil, as well as that of young artists struggling to live off their work.
Brazil is fast becoming a financial powerhouse — it's now the 8th largest economy in the world — and is expected to attract the world's attention as it gears up to host the World Cup in 2014 and the next Summer Olympics in 2016.
The country elected its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, in 2011. But, Averbuck says, the country still has a long way to go in its treatment of women.
"Unfortunately, Brazil is still a very sexist country. Girls are still seen like objects. The most important thing a woman can do is just be pretty, and it's a shame," she says.
"I want people to get from my characters that they can be themselves," Averbuck says.
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