Fantastic Reread


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.

I had never realized how much I needed the attention of others to confirm my own presence.
Stargirl explores what makes each of us unique as well as the question of how much do other people’s opinions matter to us?  How much should they?  Leo’s journey might not make you like him all the time–turns out he really does value the opinions of others much more than he’d thought–but at the same time you understand him.  How many of us would have the courage to befriend a girl who makes up her own name and not only doesn’t care what other people think, honestly doesn’t even know what they think?  About her or much anything else?
Not going to spoil the ending so I won’t tell you what Leo ultimately decides to do or how it all turns out.  I will tell you that there is a sequel to this that I’ve made the choice never to read.  This was originally a stand-alone and I’m perfectly comfortable with the story told here.  I don’t want more.  As we’ve all seen with certain companion books released to “flesh out” a series, more isn’t always better.  Sometimes it’s just more.
So have you ever met a Stargirl-like person in your life?  Do you think they really exist?
Also, do you have suggestions for books my teens from church should consider for the book club this summer?  Let me know in the comments below, and never forget to be true to yourself!!!
–Bronto Incognito
bronto 10a
Before you go, don’t forget to check out some of our other reviews!!!!
scorpion shards         flipped          soundless

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