I didn’t get this book, number 37 on the NPR’s Top 100 of Teen Fiction. It was an easy read and I get the deeper meaning of the story about nonconformity and individuality, but somehow it didn’t work for me.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is the story of a strange girl who calls herself Stargirl and who one days shows up in high school and marches to the beat of her own drummer. She’s radically different and she doesn’t care what people think of her, making her unique. At first, that makes her incredibly popular, but when she becomes ‘too weird’ (like cheering-for-a-rival team-weird), the students start to shun her.
High school student Leo Borlock is intrigued by her, then falls in love with her, only to ‘betray’ Stargirl later when she’s being shunned. He pressures her into conforming and she tries that, convinced that she’ll be accepted once again. Only she isn’t, not even when she wins a prestigious speaking competition. In the end, he breaks up with her and after a grand finale and a showdown with her biggest enemy, Stargirl disappears to never be seen again.
Like I said, there’s a clear message in this book and it’s a positive one, but it just didn’t like the book all that much. Maybe it was because Stargirl was too over-the-top, not even remotely realistic. Maybe it was because I thought Leo was very weak and I really didn’t like him all that much. Maybe it was because there was a lot of general vagueness and allusions that didn’t make sense.
That doesn’t mean the book isn’t good, it just means it wasn’t my kind of thing. There’s nothing wrong with students reading it though, there is more than enough in there to warrant good discussions about peer pressure, conformity, even bullying. Just try for yourself, maybe you’ll love it! As for language and sexual content, there’s not much there, so in that sense it’s a ‘safe read’.