Thursday, October 27, 2011



by Jerry Spinelli

Like many high schools, things are pretty typical in Leo's high school. So when a strange hippie chick in a range of weird costumes shows up and starts singing to people in the cafeteria, cheering for the other team, and generally acting like all the unspoken norms and rules don't apply to her.

For a while, people aren't sure what to make of her. Eventually, they embrace her, and a wave of individualism sweeps through the school. Leo optimistically daydreams of a new dawn, until the tide begins to turn. When their sports team begins to win for the first time ever, people suddenly start to care that Stargirl, as she calls herself, cheers for the other players as much as she does for their own, and start to view her as a traitor. The shunning is complete and Leo, her boyfriend, gradually notices it and finds himself swayed, as well, beginning to be embarrassed by the very things that he once admired.

This book doesn't go for the happy ending, as a movie or an episode of Glee would, with everyone discovering her wonderful heart again at the end, though there is a glimmer of hope. Instead, it goes deeper, and Leo finds himself talking with a wise old friend of his about the nature of her and him and the stuff of stars and stargirls. There are lessons here, to be sure, but they are imparted with a sort of longing and a mystical feel that keeps them from being earnest or preachy. In the end, Leo looks back wistfully, and still full of more questions than answers.

Note: there is a followup as well, Love, Stargirl, that I will be adding to my to-read pile, as I am curious how a sequel to this would unfold.

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