Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stargirl (Book Review)

Author: Jerry Spinelli
Year: 2000
Genre: Novel

Reading Level: Young Adult

Literary Awards: Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee (2003), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2003), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2003), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2001), Iowa Teen Award (2003), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2001), Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children's Literature (2001), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2006), NAIBA Book Award for Children's Literature

Plot Summary: Mica High is a quiet, homogeneous place until the exuberant, colorful Stargirl arrives.  Her fellow students are at first surprised by her, and then they adore her, imitating her quirky habits and enthusiasm.  Leo Borlock is drawn to her, even as her public displays of oddness make him a little uncomfortable.  When the student population turns on Stargirl, Leo is stuck between the conventional expectations of his peers and a desire to be with the entirely unconventional Stargirl.
Red Flags: None, unless you count teenager pettiness and meanness.

My Rating: A-
The last Jerry Spinelli book I read is Maniac Magee in fifth grade.  That has nothing to do with my review, but I felt like saying it anyway.

I really liked this book.  It was well written (too well written to be the thoughts of a teenage boy, hah), and almost elegant in its simplicity.  I think a good number of current YA authors could learn a lot from this book and how the characters and story are handled so deftly.  The setting was vivid and the emotions and motivations of all the players were clear and real.  I liked that Leo doesn't always do the right thing and that the ending is bittersweet.  I also liked that there was some perspective to it at the end--that high school drama (real though it is) is not the end of all things.  

My only real issue with this book is that I didn't necessarily like Stargirl.  She's compassionate, sensitive and unique, and I am all for those things.  But I am also all for not making a nuisance of yourself, and often she did, even though her intentions were good.  It's great to be confident in yourself and be your own person, but I think there's a happy medium between individuality and societal norms.  Isn't there?

Overall, a well-written tale that both teenagers and adults can relate to, with solid characters and a memorable setting.    


  1. I have this one in a box full of books I compulsively bought at goodwill- books I knew I wanted to read that were so cheap- then I realized how long that list was and stopped buying them all- anyway- I need to go dig it out! I'm excited.

  2. P.S. Totally unrelated, have you ever posted that strawberry lime cake you made when we were there last summer? I looked but didn't see it.

  3. Yeah, you should pull it out! It's a super quick read.

    As for that cake, I mentioned the recipe in this post (http://hinkypunkstation.blogspot.com/search/label/cake), but not when I made it that second time when you guys were here. I should though, because I think that one was better and plus it was pink!