Author: Jerry Spinelli. Release date: 2000. Publisher: Dell Laurel-Leaf. ISBN: 9780440416777.
Review: Stargirl is an interesting and unique story about an interesting and unique, free-spirited girl. Spinelli does an excellent job of setting the stage for Stargirl’s “grand entrance” to Mica High School; it’s akin to when Dorothy steps into the Land of Oz for the first time and everything goes from black-and-white to color. The relationship between Leo and Stargirl is an interesting mix of adoration and confusion. Leo doesn’t know what to make of Stargirl’s strange behavior: her ukulele playing, her unusual clothes, her celebration of all the little things her classmates do. Young readers will be able to appreciate how different Stargirl is from their own peers, just as Leo does. Her rise and fall from popularity will also be interesting for ‘tweens who might witness similar situation in their own schools. Overall, Stargirl’s unique and fun-loving qualities make for an entertaining and heartwarming story that will likely stick with readers for some time.
Reading level: Grades 5-9
Similar titles: Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (sequel to Stargirl).
Personal thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to make of this novel initially, but came to find the character of Stargirl to be quite endearing. She is unlike any other character I’ve met in a novel, and I realized that that was likely Spinelli’s intention. I really liked the relationship between Leo and Stargirl, and how he really admired her despite the pressure he felt from his classmates to shun her. I would definitely recommend this novel to ‘tween, teen and adult readers.
Themes: Conformity/nonconformity, high school relationships, acceptance, struggling to fit-in.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults.
Series Information: Sequel, Love, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli.
Leo Borlock – Sixteen-year-old student at Mica High School. He is immediately intrigued when Stargirl moves to town, and eventually falls in love with her.
Stargirl Caraway – A free-spirited and unusual sixteen-year-old who turns Mica High School upside down when she moves to town. She is, at first, very popular with her classmates, then quickly becomes and outcast.
Kevin Quinlan – Leo’s best-friend. He’s the only student at Mica High who will still pay attention to Leo after he and Stargirl are shunned by the rest of the school.
Archie Brubaker – A paleontologist who is a friend and mentor to Leo, Stargirl, Kevin and many of the other students at Mica High School.
Hillari Kimble – Mica High School’s “mean girl.” She immediately dislikes Stargirl and makes it a point to get the rest of the school to agree with her.
Annotation: Mica High School is just like any other school until Stargirl moves to town. Stargirl doesn’t act like everyone else: she is free-spirited, perpetually optimistic, and constantly encouraging. Will the students of Mica High force her to conform?