I promised a review of this book in my recent reading post, and here it is.
I loved this book very much. I have to say that right away. I had heard about it for a while and knew that Jerry Spinelli was a good writer, but never really thought that I would be interested in the story. Maybe because the only other people I knew who did read it were very reluctant and struggling readers in middle school! I was evidently wrong because I read the book in one sitting (this was back when I could lounge by the pool for the afternoon) and couldn’t put it down. It was one of those books that I was sad to see end. (The good news is that there is a sequel.)
So, enough about me, let me actually tell you about the book. In this novel by Jerry Spinelli, we meet Leo, a 16 year old high school junior. He had been a transfer student to the school, but made friends and fit in nicely at the start of the book. A new student, Stargirl, comes to Leo’s high school and she is unlike anyone that the rest of the school has seen before. The other students are uncertain of her, then they are enamored and inspired by her, and then she is ostracised. Through all of this, Leo develops a special place in his heart for Stargirl. As she becomes a part of his life, and he learns to live and love the way she does (doing such unusual things as playing the ukelale and singing “Happy Birthday” to people she doesn’t know, having a pet rat, and keeping fresh flowers on her desk in school), and he struggles with issues of conformity and popularity.
I felt a certain connection with the character Stargirl as I read the story and imagine that anyone who has ever truly cared for someone else, or put someone else’s happiness before their own will connect with her as well. She is a free spirit, and is her own person. She finds joy in making others happy and expects nothing in return from them. However, she also wants to be happy herself (how can anyone blame her?), and when the pressures of being new to the high school, the reality of being different from everyone else, and her feelings for Leo become too much for her, everything changes and comes crashing down.
I won’t give away too much more about the book because it is a wonderful story. I think that the story of Stargirl is ultimately an inspiring and uplifting one. I hope that reading this book will help open the eyes and the minds of people who might become so consumed by their own personal issues that they do not know how to be compassionate for others. Stargirl’s example of selflessness and caring is one that I think we should all follow…in our own special way.
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Publisher/Date: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2000