I personally didn’t love Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, but I’m reviewing it anyway because I know a lot of people do love it. Stargirl is on virtually every list of clean teen books I have ever seen.
I think the problem was that I was confused about what I was getting myself into. The book cover (and many reviewers) call Stargirl “magical”, but she isn’t. Not in the traditional way. She’s a wonderful non-conformist character who changes the lives of those around her through her personality, not magic.
When Stargirl starts going to school at Mica Area High School, everyone notices her. She wears pioneer dresses, strums her ukulele, carries her pet rat, and serenades her classmates on their birthdays. Slowly, people start to wonder why they conform to be like the popular crowd and Stargirl becomes the most popular girl in school. Of course, Stargirl is genuine and couldn’t care less that she is popular.
But Stargirl turns out to be too weird to be popular. (Her classmates blame homeschool for her obliviousness about how to be normal.) The school shuns her when she cheers for both teams at the basketball games.
Stargirl’s story is told by Leo, who is fascinated by her. Even when she falls from popularity, Leo stands by her. But he has a lot to learn about himself before he can fully understand what an amazing person Stargirl is. Will he truly understand her before it is too late?
Stargirl reminds me of Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember, only Stargirl is much quirkier.
Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I hadn’t expected elements of fantasy. If I had gone in knowing it was realistic fiction, I probably wouldn’t have been looking for more. I may have felt satisfied with this well-written story about a girl who changes lives for the better by being completely selfless and genuine.
If you enjoy this book, look for the sequel, Love, Stargirl.
Review by me, Emily.