So, another of the books I read for my YA Lit class was Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.
While I’m not a big reader of contemporary fiction because I like to read to escape my own world, I did really enjoy this book (and its sequel) because of its otherworldly quality.
Being the new kid in school means Stargirl Carraway is pretty noticeable, but no one takes so much notice as Leo Borlock because she is unlike any girl he’s ever seen or known. It isn’t her looks, it’s her way of life. Stargirl is special; she even named herself. She has a pet rat, puts funny notices in the paper, sends unknown gifts to strangers, drops change everywhere, and sings to people on their birthdays with her ukelele. Leo falls hard for her, but he is also acutely aware that she doesn’t fit in at school. She does things so differently that she alienates herself from her peers, but Leo cannot stand out that much. He must be included into the herd of his peers, and he persuades Stargirl to do the same. Stargirl becomes Susan. She is well-liked, becomes popular, but makes one terrible mistake. She becomes a cheerleader and cheers for the opposing team during a game. It signals her doom, and Leo still cannot sacrifice his world for this one special girl. But she, she lives up to her name and shoots like a star across his life and teaches him many lessons he cannot forget until one day he realizes what a kind, unique, and unforgettable girl he had who really made everyone’s life shine a little brighter too. He must choose between real, absent, cold life or try to be worthy of her and their love for some possibility of an unknown future together.
The sequel is Love, Stargirl and it is from Stargirl’s point-of-view after she is dumped by Leo, but writing a love letter to him. She has moved away from Arizona to Pennsylvania. She is steadily getting more unhappy, but makes many new friends like gregarious 5-year-old Dootsie; Betty Lou, who is terrified to go out of her own house and lonely; Alvina an 11-year-old with a chip on her shoulder (especially against boys); Charlie, a widower who lives in the graveyard to be near his absent wife; Arnold, who is a perpetually lost older man; and Perry, who seems to be a petty criminal but proves to be something else entirely. Through her friendships and their problems, she shares herself and gets pieces of her friends in return until they’re all a little bit touched by some special light that is Stargirl.
I found myself identifying much more with the second book than the first because of the characters. The first book was so much of the cactus and Archie and Leo that I found it hard to cherish, but the second book, really was beautifully written and spoke to some inner part of me that I think will speak to other girls as well. Every person is unique, and Stargirl just makes everyone want to be their own brand or version of unique and share it with others.
I think these would make great movies, but so far, I don’t believe anything has happened. Personally, I like these stories so much better than The Perks of Being a Wallflower even though I like wallflowers and the perks with being one, just that book was so…disturbing in places. I suppose my life just was rather normal (no, I don’t mean BORING) and not disturbing except for jaded love and other minor bits of things that hit the fan as I and my classmates got older…Another book discussion for another time. Possibly after I see the new movie. 🙂
Ratings: Most contemporary fiction books just don’t make me love them. So good read? Yes. Read again? Not for me.