Learning to be a Stargirl

Title: Stargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Pages: 186
Publisher: Ember (2000)
Rating: 6/6

Excerpt taken from the back of the book: Stargirl. She’s as magical as the desert sky. As strange as her pet rat. As mysterious as her own name. And she captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. But when the students of Mica High turn on Stargirl for everything that makes her different, Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In a celebration of nonconformity, Newberry Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity – and the inspiration of first love.

Where to begin with this book? It’s just… magic. Pure magic. I saw it mentioned on a blog post, accompanied by a high recommendation, and even though I didn’t even read the whole post, I found myself picking this book up when I was at Barnes and Noble a few days later.

Best. Decision. Ever. I read it in two hours – single sitting.

Let’s start with the writing: it’s pure poetry. The phrases and word choice is strange, and a bit off beat, but they always flow together just right and fit in with the message of the story. I don’t even know how to describe it, but the best way I can is like this: it’s like being wrapped in the softest blanket you can imagine, at just the right temperature, floating in that in-between of sleep and consciousness. It feels like safety, and a bit like home.

And the rest? It actually took me about 1/3 of the book to really get into it. It would have helped to know that the book is entirely from Leo’s perspective – not Stargirl’s. Once I had that figured out, everything got a bit better. I, like Leo and the rest of Mica High, found Stargirl to be alien: completely out of this world and “is she even real?” But, as everyone discovers, it’s just Stargirl, as she is. She notices the most inconsequential objects, sends cards for all occasions, cries at a stranger’s funeral, sings Happy Birthday while playing a ukelele to every student on their day, and wears the wackiest clothes. She’s a special, unique character.

At first, I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this book at all. I thought, “Did I really just spend ten bucks for this? Shoot. I hope my used book store will let me trade it in.” NOPE. This book is staying on my shelf for eternity. The change came about halfway through the book, at the point where Leo tries to convince Stargirl to be “normal.” I didn’t think I cared about these characters, or about what happened, but the moment they hurt, I hurt with them. Once, I turned the page, and my heart sank in my chest and I wept for Stargirl. The ending wasn’t what I expected, but it was such a quiet beauty, a gentle, thoughtful, incredible ending. I’m running out of adjectives here, but you get my point. Not many books can get me to cry, but this one had me reaching for the tissues.

I could probably go on and on about this one, but let me leave you with this message: BUY THE BOOK. IT’S 100% WORTH IT.

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2 thoughts on “Learning to be a Stargirl

  1. Oh! I love Stargirl! I’ve read it at least twice, maybe three times. There’s also a sequel Love, Stargirl. I don’t remember it being as good as Stargirl, but it’s still worth reading. (New follower via bloglovin!)

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