Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

“When a stargirl cries, she does not shed tears but light.”

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TitleStargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Narrator: John Ritter
Genre: YA fiction
ISBN: 9780807210482
Length: 4.5 hours
Published: 2000
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: I was browsing through the audiobooks at my local library branch and saw this one. I remember one of my old best friends reading this a lot, so I picked it up.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“She was homeschooling gone amok.” “She was an alien.” “Her parents were circus acrobats.” These are only a few of the theories concocted to explain Stargirl Caraway, a new 10th grader at Arizona’s Mica Area High School who wears pioneer dresses and kimonos to school, strums a ukulele in the cafeteria, laughs when there are no jokes, and dances when there is no music. The whole school, not exactly a “hotbed of nonconformity,” is stunned by her, including our 16-year-old narrator Leo Borlock: “She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl.”

In time, incredulity gives way to out-and-out adoration as the student body finds itself helpless to resist Stargirl’s wide-eyed charm, pure-spirited friendliness, and penchant for celebrating the achievements of others. In the ultimate high school symbol of acceptance, she is even recruited as a cheerleader. Popularity, of course, is a fragile and fleeting state, and bit by bit, Mica sours on their new idol. Why is Stargirl showing up at the funerals of strangers? Worse, why does she cheer for the opposing basketball teams? The growing hostility comes to a head when she is verbally flogged by resentful students on Leo’s televised Hot Seatshow in an episode that is too terrible to air. While the playful, chin-held-high Stargirl seems impervious to the shunning that ensues, Leo, who is in the throes of first love (and therefore scornfully deemed “Starboy”), is not made of such strong stuff: “I became angry. I resented having to choose. I refused to choose. I imagined my life without her and without them, and I didn’t like it either way.”

My Thoughts: This book was pretty fantastic. I think that it should be required reading for young adults. What I took away from the book is this: It can be hard to be yourself, different from other people, but if it makes you happy, you should do it. And I think that is something all young people should know. (I feel weird, saying young people because I’m only 23 right now haha) Looking back, I don’t think I had a very hard time fitting in. I don’t know how I ended up with a completely different set of friends when I switched from elementary to junior high school. It might have been that all my old friends were really into sports and I wasn’t. Or maybe I just wasn’t really as good of friends with them as I thought. But I had lots of friends and even if I had a different characteristic, usually at least somebody also had it (like reading a lot!). I’m grateful that I could be me 🙂

But I have a confession to make. Just as Leo was a little embarrassed by Stargirl’s behavior for awhile at the beginning of their relationship, I also was embarrassed by one of my boyfriends. My first boyfriend, Arthur, had liked me for a couple years. But when he asked me to go out with him when I was 15, I said yes. Arthur was “different”. He wore lots of black clothes and painted his fingernails black. I wouldn’t say he was a “goth”, especially not in the way I picture that now. But that was different enough for me to feel uneasy when we were around people in school. Like Leo with Stargirl, I really enjoyed my time with him out of school. About a month into the “relationship”, he broke up with me because he could feel my embarrassment of him.

I didn’t realize there was a sequel to this book: Love, Stargirl. But I have requested it. I’m not sure that I really need to read it because this was a nice, uplifting and slightly inspiring book. I fear a sequel might ruin the simpleness and message of the first 😕 But I will try it out and just remember that I should try to look at it as if the two books are completely separate and have nothing to do with one another.

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