contemporary · review · young adult

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

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Blurb: “Nobody knows who she is, or where she’s come from. But everyone loves her for being different. And she captures Leo’s heart with just one smile.”

Stargirl is a perfect example of why every so often you should let someone else buy you a book. Despite being an avid reader, this is not a book I would have picked up if I saw it in a bookstore. For me personally, the cover is too bare to draw my attention. However, I am so glad someone thought I may like this and decided to give it to me as a gift, otherwise I would have missed out on a truly wonderful story.

The question is often asked: why should I read this book?
The answer is simple: Stargirl.

Stargirl is such a refreshingly unique character who grabs your attention in the first few pages and doesn’t let go until you finally read the last line of the book. What initially draws you into this character is how differently she is presented in a world unofficially governed by typical high school cliques.

While this is a popular theme in YA books set in a high school, the defining difference in Spinelli’s novel is Stargirl isn’t aware she’s not conforming. 

To Stargirl, the way she dresses and acts, including bringing her pet rat to school in her backpack, is all perfectly normal to her.

Or so she thinks until she meets Leo, the character the novel follows, who becomes her friend.  Leo is very much the stereotypical character who isn’t popular themselves, but doesn’t want to do anything to hinder where they currently stand in the high school sphere. Leo is that character who not only cares how he’s personally perceived, but how he’s perceived in connection to a person the school collectively decides to rally against. What initially sparks Leo’s interest in Stargirl is the fact she doesn’t care what people say about or to her.

I spent a lot of the book disliking Leo because he quickly becomes the character who can’t understand why someone would actively choose to be different, and not care what people may say about their unconventional ways. Although, on reflection after finishing the novel, I realised that Leo’s views were needed to balance things out. The novel wouldn’t have been as interesting if Stargirl simply danced around while people grumbled under their breaths for the entirety of the novel.

It is only a short book (192 pages in length) but it holds an incredible story about not only non-conformity, but embracing it.

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