StargirlTitle: Stargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
ISBN: 0679886370
Pages: 186 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, c2000.

“And then I saw her. At lunch. She wore an off-white dress so long it covered her shoes. It had ruffles around the neck and cuffs and looked like it could have been her great-grandmother’s wedding gown. Her hair was the color of sand. It fell to her shoulders. Something was strapped across her back, but it wasn’t a book bag. At first I thought it was a miniature guitar. I found out later it was a ukulele.” (4)

Leo doesn’t know what to make of the new student at high school. Stargirl Caraway comes to school in weird outfits. She sings happy birthday to everyone while accompanying herself with her ukulele. She makes up songs about isocles triangles. She asks questions about trolls in U.S. History. She cheers for both teams at basketball games, and she pledges allegiance to the United Turtles of America and the fruit bats of Borneo. As the school year continues, Leo has difficulty with the repercussions of his friendship with Stargirl as her popularity fades and her weirdness becomes too overwhelming for their classmates to ignore. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a pitch perfect portrayal at the extremes we go to to become popular, and what it means when someone questions that conformity.

I seem to be enjoying more books, maybe because I’m done with school. The similarities between this books and Firegirl are obvious. A new girl comes to school and finds it difficult to make friends due to her appearance. Her presence, while brief, makes a definite impression on the other students, especially one boy who makes an effort to get to know her. But I loved Stargirl, because while it has similarities, it’s a wonderful book. The reactions of the students and their various stages of amazement, discomfort, disdain, and finally awe are authentic to the setting. Stargirl’s attempts at being popular are painful to read because of her own lack of self-identity in the process. While we might want to cheer when she rediscovers herself, readers all know that she is not as happy and carefree as she appears. Leo is a realistically portrayed teen who sees the error in his classmate’s ways, but does not have the power or courage to stand up for Stargirl. Again, another great book for discussion. I now understand why it’s been so popular for so long.

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