Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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.


  1. I liked that book. I read it on the recomendation of a writer group friend who said it reminded him of my writing.

    To be honest, I wasn't wowed or swept off my feet by it, but I thought it was nice. I liked the internal and psychological bent of the story. There isn't much action, but there is a lot of discovery--it is just more internal. I liked that.

    I'd say it is worth reading. It might be a little quiet for a lot of kids, but there are those kids it would really speak to.

  2. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I didn't want her to change. I didn't feel as though as had to change, to fit in. I wanted her to be admired for who she was, which she was, at first, but I think it would have made a stronger statement if she ALWAYS had been. Anyhow, my favorite Spinelli title is Maniac Magee. Amazing story.

  3. I LOVED the book. Maybe it's because I was such a weird kid, never fit in. I wasn't like Stargirl, but I was treated similarly. Except, I didn't react well to the negative reactions others gave me. I wish I would have been more like her. After I read it, I recommended it to teen/tween girls. I knew how awkward they might feel at that age, and this book is a great comfort. It almost has a call to action as well. "Be different." "Do good things for others."


  4. Charming book. I work at a large bookstore and am part of the team that specializes in the children's section. I will definitely be recommending this book (and its sequel) as an alternative to The Gossip Girls and It Girls, etc.