Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. 978-0-679-88637-2
Synopsis: Leo Borlock’s life at Mica High is perfectly normal until a classmate calling herself Stargirl appears. She’s definitely not like everybody else – playing her ukulele in the school cafeteria, cheering for the opposite team, dancing in the rain, leaving gifts and cards for complete strangers, wearing kimonos and long pioneer dresses to school – and she doesn’t want to be. At first, the students of Mica High look at her as a delightful eccentric, but the more she tries to fit in and become normal, the more the students shun her.
Why I picked it up: Having spent the entirety of elementary school trying to fit in, I wanted to read about other people who didn’t fit in.
Why I finished it: Aside from the fact that Leo as a narrator is never really developed in contrast to Stargirl, Spinelli’s story struck a chord with me – not just because I was an outcast, but because gradually the reader, like Leo, come to realize how Stargirl is changing the lives of the people around her by expressing her individuality. The book is also an unfortunate victim of a cover that might be more appealing to females than its likely unisex audience. Regardless, what Stargirl offers us is a sort of encouragement to be ourselves, despite what other people may think or say to the contrary. Most of the schools I went to and those that my friends went to didn’t have the same sort of conformation aspects as those at Mica High, and there were even groups that catered to whatever interests or groups students happened to be involved in. Spinelli’s story chooses not to touch on any of the clique aspects so prevalent in high school today by showing the reader a place not only where there are no distinguishable cliques, but of a girl who is bold enough to wear, say, and do ‘socially unacceptable’ things that are out of the norm. It is a sad, touching, and encouraging read about the bravery to be yourself and challenging conformity.
Other related materials: Love, Stargirl (sequel) by Jerry Spinelli; Loser by Jerry Spinelli; Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli; Crash by Jerry Spinelli; Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli; Wringer by Jerry Spinelli; Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli; The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli; Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; Bloomability by Sharon Creech; Tangerine by Edward Bloor; Firegirl by Tony Abbott; The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg; Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser; Holes by Louis Sachar