Stargirl (paperback)

by Jerry Spinelli

AR Level 4.2, 6 points

Stargirl is a new student in a small high school in Mica, Arizona, a close-knit town where all students know each other, and it is normal to be normal.  Leo is a not popular, not unpopular boy known for being like everyone else.  The author makes a point of describing how everyone fits in, because they are all the same.  No one stands out, the sports teams aren”t good or bad… everything is just average.  Until Stargirl arrives, that is.  Previously home schooled, Stargirl stands out in her pioneer girl dresses, sunflower canvas lunch bag, and flower on her desk.  She serenades people on their birthdays and leaves holiday treats on her classmates’ desks.  Her sudden popularity earns her a spot as a cheerleader, but that goes from bad to worse.  We see what it is like to be a unique person in an utterly average setting.  Leo, the protagonist, falls in love with Stargirl’s whimsical nature, but fights with his “need” to be like everyone else.  We follow Stargirl through Leo’s eyes, for better and for worse.

What I liked about this book was that we get to see what it is like for Stargirl from another point of view.  Leo sees Stargirl’s eccentricities and appreciates them, but also takes them for granted.  We often come into contact with unusual people we may find embarrassing or fascinating, so we can relate to Leo.  I think it is an important message, either choosing to be ourselves or choosing to fit in.  I remember the frustrations of wanting to be like everyone else (which I was not).  I tried to wear my hair in a certain way, buy clothes like everyone else’s, and even listen to their music.  I still struggle with wanting to fit in instead of accepting who I am.  As much as I want to say I accept myself for who I am, there are always little twinges of emotion.  I would like to say that if I were in Leo’s position, I would accept Stargirl for who she was and give everyone else the middle finger, but that probably isn’t how it would go.

What I didn’t like about this book was how mean people can be, especially teenagers (although I am WELL AWARE that this goes on throughout adulthood… mean girls don’t always grow up).  I thought that since this was a short book, it would be a quick and easy read to help me catch up in my reading challenge.  However, it took me almost a week.  There is more meat to this story than meets the eye.  Reading it reminded me of Stand By Me or Sandlot (without the funny parts), in that I could hear Leo narrating the story and talking about the girl he used to know.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

Book 32 of 52


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