by Jerry Spinelli
Opening line–“When I was little, my uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it.”
From the front flap: “Stargirl. She’s as magical as the desert sky. As strange as her pet rat. As mysterious as her own name. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of ‘Stargirl, Stargirl.’ She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile.”
Here is, I am afraid, an example of a book which really didn’t work for me. Leo is an engaging narrator and the premise is at least moderately interesting. However, the title character drove me insane. To be frank, I didn’t believe in her. Despite the fact that Spinelli’s characters kept telling me that “She really is real. For real,” I didn’t believe in her as an actual human being. She seemed to be all too clearly a figure meant to show us how we Ought To Live. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this book might have worked better had she and Leo alternated narratives. As it was, we only saw her from the outside.
And in general, this book had a highly didactic tone. Not quite to the point where I expected to see “MORAL: Be as unconventional as possible” at the end, but almost. I suppose I should have expected that when the front flap informs us that this is a “celebration of nonconformity.”
Okay, but here’s the thing though. I was homeschooled. I went into public school in 5th grade. I wore long skirts and had glasses and braces and was painfully shy and it was horrible (until high school). I know that journey, and once again, Stargirl failed to convince me that she was actually someone homeschooled who was coming into public school.
I know this is a much more negative review than I usually give, but for whatever reason I was rubbed very much the wrong way by this one.
Book source: public library
Book information: Knopf, 2000