Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl_Jerry_SpinelliTitle: Stargirl (Stargirl #1)
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Published: September 2002 (Scholastic)
Pages: 186
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: Four Stars
Goodreads Summary:
From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her – normal.
Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository
Cover Thoughts: I love the simpleness of this cover. I think it’s unique because the title isn’t written, but rather portrayed by a star and a girl.
First Line: When I was little, my uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it.
Stargirl immediately drew me into the story from the prologue which is from the main character, Leo’s point of view. Leo is a high school Junior whose co-hosts the popular show, Hotseat with his best friend Kevin. He’s fascinated by Stargirl, but doesn’t act on it in the beginning, except for following her one time. It was really interesting to see his point of view of Stargirl before he really knew her.
Stargirl is one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read about. She doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance correctly, she carries around a ukulele going from lunch table to table, singing happy birthday to various students, she has a pet rat and most notably, she had this phenomenal kindness and desire to do good for everyone.
When Stargirl goes to Mica High School, the students are curious about her strange behavior often now knowing what to make of her. However, the students come to love Stargirl as she unifies the students, joining in her kindness crusade. This all changes at a basketball game though and the shunning begins for Stargirl and Leo.
There was a sort of magical aspect to both the character and the book, Stargirl, with the way she acted and people reacted. I thought it was realistic how the students became Stargirl crazy, dressing like her and acting like her, then turning around and rejecting her. High school students aren’t always the most kindest peoples as we learn in Stargirl.
I liked the romance aspect between Stargirl and Leo was built up. Leo never makes fun of Stargirl and eventually begins hanging out with her. Despite her being the school outcast, he still hangs out with her. It was well portrayed. Stargirl and Leo’s hanging out was refreshing to read because they did unique things such as following people for 15 minutes in the mall, trying to figure out what card they needed. They visited a desert where they would just sit silently and be content.
Stargirl was always a sort of mystery to Leo that he could never quite figure out and I enjoyed that. Stargirl was a mystery to all of the students because they couldn’t imagine someone who wanted to be kind no matter what, let others win sometimes and be there for someone, even if they didn’t know them personally.
Stargirl was likable, joyful and down to earth, despite some of her out of the world behavior. She creates a scrapbook for a young boy in her neighborhood, makes cards for people she feels needs them, learns information about people that others wouldn’t think about, and even cheers for the school’s opposing teams. Stargirl is not always a happy person Leo finds out though. When he visits her house he finds a wagon she calls her “Happy Wagon”. The happy wagon is a small wagon full of pebbles that Stargirl either puts one in or takes one out depending on if she’s happy or not. He discovers she’s been very sad at times about the students not liking her. She always hides her sadness though with joy.
It was believable that Leo wanted Stargirl to be “normal” so they would be thought of better by their classmates. The peer pressure Leo felt with being in a relationship with Stargirl was believable while being painful. I felt really upset that Stargirl wanted to be liked and have friends and one event just ruins that. I can understand the students not liking her at times because her behavior was strange to them, but it was still sad to read.
I thought Leo was an okay enough character. I couldn’t really understand why Stargirl was so initially attracted to him. I was annoyed at times because he thought so much of what his classmates thought of him and it affected how he thought of Stargirl. I can’t fully blame Leo though for feeling upset because in high school peer pressure and conformity are big issues. Before Stargirl came to Mica high, Leo had been well liked and afterwards, he was shunned.
There were other characters in Stargirl such as Archie, a retired paleontologist, a person who studies fossils. Archie teaches kids on Saturdays including Leo and Stargirl. Students are free to come in at any time though to be taught by him, which Stargirl and Leo do. He has a mentor type friendship with Stargirl and Leo. Archie was an interesting character. I liked how he understood Stargirl a bit as he was a little strange himself. I also liked how he confronted Leo about his trying to change Stargirl in his own way. Archie seemed very wise to me and like a teacher or mentor I wish I would had.
Leo’s best friend, Kevin, was an okay character. Like Leo, I wasn’t completely crazy about him. I liked how he didn’t outright shun Leo and Stargirl when the rest of the students did, but he wasn’t much better. In the beginning he wants Stargirl to be on Hot Seat, which Leo is against. Kevin ends up nagging Leo about it and eventually Leo gives in. This makes me wish Leo would have thought more for himself than others.
One event in particular frustrated me a lot because if it had occurred differently, it would have caused a different ending. I did like the ending for the most part, it was mostly satisfying but heartbreaking as well.
Stargirl was uniquely written with its simplistic yet beautiful deep meaning writing. I fell in love with so many of the quotes in it.
Stargirl was inspiring. At 23 years old it made me examine myself and how often I go out of my way to be kind to others despite their own behavior. Stargirl shares a great message of  simply being yourself despite what others think and being kind no matter what. I loved how Stargirl dealt with issues such as individuality, peer pressure, hate and social norms, especially in high school.
The only flaws I felt were in this book was Leo’s lack of depth outside of Stargirl’s effect on him. I wish the book was a bit longer as well. Overall I really enjoyed the book and it’s one I’ll definitely read again.

Memorable Quotes

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. 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.
One morning we had a rare rainfall. It came during her gym class. The teacher told everyone to come in. On the way to the next class they looked out the windows. Stargirl was still outside. In the rain.
I observed her as if she were a bird in an aviary. One day I turned a corner and there she was, coming right at me, the long skirt softly rustling, looking straight at me, surrounding me with those eyes. I turned and trotted off the other way. Seating myself in my next class, I felt warm, shaken. I wondered if my foolishness showed. Was I myself becoming goofy? The feeling I had had when I saw her around the corner had been something like panic (3.39).

About Amber (YA Indulgences)

Amber is a 20-something woman who enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks. She has a book blog called YA Indulgences . She is still trying to figure out what she's doing with her life, but she's confident that time will tell. In the meantime she's heading towards the goal of becoming a renowned blogger. View all posts by Amber (YA Indulgences)

2 responses to “Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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