Has the wind ever swept you off your feet? Have you ever felt like a misfit? Have you ever wanted to help someone but didn’t know how? If you want to read something short and sweet, but still life changing then Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is perfect for you.
Fitting in had never been in Stargirl’s vocabulary. She is new to Mica High School after being home schooled for her entire life. Everyone there is automatically flabbergasted by her – her ukulele playing and birthday singing at lunch, her out-of-the-century clothing, her extreme friendliness, her pet rat who is always with her, her curious way of cheerleading, and the fact that she doesn’t care what people think or how many friends she has. Mica High is the sort of school where everyone submissively follows every trend and meekly fears anyone who is “weird”, so Stargirl is a true revelation. She does not necessarily struggle with being disliked, but rather, it is the other kids who struggle with disliking her. Her classmates grow to love her, but that soon changes. They do not know what to make of her: "She was illusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew." The way people treat her is always fluctuating. She uniquely meets Leo Burlock – who narrates the story – and they fall in love. Along with the readers, Leo learns more and more about Stargirl (whom is occasionally named Susan) and is fascinated by her life. Out of their struggles of being misfits, Leo teaches her to be normal – the one thing that slowly demolishes her amazing and unique character. Throughout the course of the story, the characters of Leo and Stargirl change drastically but realistically. Will Leo (and the rest of Mica High) learn how pointless conformity is? Will Stargirl ever become herself again and will anyone ever understand how incredible she is? Read it to find out!
This type of typical high school setting is used in masses of teen fiction books, but this book looks at it from a new perspective and gives you a whole new idea of individuality. You have probably experienced a situation of excessive conformity (like at Mica High) sometime in your life, and hopefully you have experienced being unique. Stargirl naturally stands out and doesn’t seem to notice how people react, unlike most people today. At first thought, her individualities may seem slightly random, but there is meaning and intention in all of her actions. She cheers for Mica’s team and also for the opposing team, saying, “I root for everybody.” Will she manage to show everyone how the game is about more than just their own team? She plays ukulele and sings for people’s birthdays at lunch. Will her fellow students ever get over their own awkwardness and enjoy Stargirl’s wishes? One of the qualities that makes her so interesting is that she always has an even bigger fascination with other people and the rest of the world. Most meaningful are her somewhat secretive but incredibly caring and selfless gifts for everyone, including total strangers. She does not care much about getting credit for giving the gifts, but she is determined to brighten their day. Lastly, she is able to let go and enjoy the universe. She once was talking about nature and said how “It never stops. It is, always. It’s just here.” In a sense, Stargirl understands what it means to be living more than most other people do. This book makes you realize how free you really can feel and how wonderfully unusual you can be.
Stargirl is perfect if you don’t feel like reading an encyclopedia-sized novel, but still want to get a whole lot out of an entertaining story. Hopefully everyone can identify with these characters in one way or another. I would recommend Stargirl for ages nine and up. Girls and boys of all ages have been enjoying this book, and so can you.