Genre: Young Adult
Publisher, Year: Knopf, 2000
Other Works: Love, Stargirl, Maniac Magee
Rating: A or Great Read
Premise: A sort of sweet, loopy girl is new at school. Her odd ways draw a lot of attention, and not all of it positive. A frank look at high school politics and the power of popularity.
In the opening chapters of the book, we meet the title's namesake, Stargirl. And from the start, we know there's something strange about her. Some might say, we know there's something wrong with her. But, this book just might make you rethink what's wrong and what's right, what's normal and what's strange.
She dresses like a hippie one day, then wears a kimino the next. She sings in the cafeteria with her ukelele, her pet rat, Cinnamon, peeking out of her shoulder bag. At first, the other teens are enthralled with her, fascinated by her "originality." But that can't last forever. And when they turn on her, we all are surprised by what transpires.
Spinelli takes on so many difficult themes with this book, including self identity, self esteem, empathy, and the capricious nature of human beings. If you think about it, high school is a fantastic model of the world to learn all of these things. I remember thinking that once I got out of the high school “drama”, as it's been called, real life in the real world with grown-up people would be different. I don’t even think I need to state the obvious that high school is simply a microcosm for the “real world.” +/-