by Jerry Spinelli
–review by Bronto Incognito
Age: Middle Grade (/Young Adult)
Contains: mild bullying
A baseball bat could not have hit me harder than that smile did. I was sixteen years old. In that time, how many thousands of smiles had been aimed at me? so why did this one feel like the first?
Book-a-likes: Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen, The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
This is not my first time through Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl. In fact, it’s at least my 3rd, if not my 4th time through. But it’s the first book I’m selecting for my teen book club this summer, so I thought I’d give it another read through so I could keep my memory fresh.
I first read this book in a Young Adult Fiction class in college. I think it may have been the very first book that semester. It has stuck with me ever since.
Stargirl tells the story of a boy named Leo, living in Arizona in the tiny-ish town of Mica. Everyone in his school hits one norm or another, no one ventures too far outside the regular. Then in walks Stargirl.
She plays the ukulele…at school. She brings her pet rat to school. Heck, she even brings curtains and a vase and decorates her desk with them each period, just to brighten things up.
Weird, odd, strange, fake…all the different words the kids use to describe her really boil down to just the one thing: Stargirl is OTHER.
Leo, for his part, seems to see her better than most people around him do. Which is probably why she starts to focus her attention on him. Which for Leo is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. Because though he’s always considered himself a background player, someone too shy to be comfortable in the spotlight, Stargirl’s presence in his life is now challenging that. He is at once both noticed (“Hey, Starboy!”) and ignored by merely being attached to her.