By Marissa Eller
If there is a book out there that perfectly depicts what it’s like to grow up and try to figure out who you are, it’s Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl.
The story has a clear message: be who you are. But sometimes who we think we are is not who we truly are. Stargirl says it’s perfectly normal to go back and forth trying to find your identity
The book’s back cover describes the enigma that is “Stargirl” perfectly.
“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.”
The book’s first chapter introduces us to Leo, a boy who has just moved across the country and has an affinity for porcupine neckties. He’s fond of the unusual, and that’s even before he meets the new girl in school, Stargirl. From there, they embark on a journey of self-discovery while they navigate the waters of a wildly narrow-minded high school.
Stargirl is a mystery to everyone in her school – some of the more popular kids even suspect that she’s a plant sent in by the school administration to test their open-mindedness. She covers her desk with a tablecloth and flowers each and every day before class, and she sings “Happy Birthday” to people she’s probably never even spoken to (on days that are definitely not their birthdays). Unfortunately, the other students don’t react very well to her eccentric dispositions, and they treat her as if she’s an alien. Because to them, she is.
These students have never even experienced “different”. Nobody in their school has ever worn different clothes or spoken different words before.
“We wanted to define her, to wrap her up as we did each other, but we could not seem to get past “weird” and “strange” and “goofy.” Her ways knocked us off balance, ” Leo described.
But as the kids in this wonderful book learned, different is good. What makes us different is what makes us who we are. That’s what Stargirl is all about.