Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The premise of this book didn’t grab me but I’ve heard so much about Stargirl I decided to read it and now, it’s one of my favorite reads this year. A quirky girl shows up at high school, playing a ukulele and wearing crazy outfits. Leo, the narrator, falls for her. But when the school turns on Stargirl, Leo must decide how important being part of the group is to him.

This story is great! At first I was skeptical (because of the buzz) and slowly made my way through the first few pages thinking it was a cute story. But the writing was awesome and turned what was just cute into relevant and riveting. I wish more YA authors could learn to write well, truly well, because it makes such a huge difference.

Spinelli creates very real characters. I loved Stargirl and Leo! From the independent spirit to the pack follower, the miss populars to the loners, Leo and Stargirl experience a range of statuses and emotions that any teenager can identify with at some point.

Once I got into the story (it didn’t take long) I could not put it down. I was rooting for Stargirl. I didn’t want to see her sacrifice herself to fit in with the crowd. I was often upset with Leo for pressuring Stargirl to do so. But I could totally understand where Leo was coming from. It’s not easy to stand out sometimes. And it’s not always easy to stand with a friend who is a target. I loved the Ocotillo dance scene! It was probably my favorite part. I liked the ending and think it felt natural.

For such a short novel this story packs a punch. It’s funny and cute while addressing a very real issue for teens – pack behavior vs. independence and the cost of each. I highly recommend this book for teens or anyone looking for a fun summer read.
Publisher: Knopf, 2000     Pages: 186     Age Recommendation: 12 and up
Rating: 5 Stars     Source: garage sale (I can’t believe someone got rid of this book)


  1. I loved this book when I was younger. Stargirl was one of my favorite literary characters until I re-read it recently and was disappointed when she let Leo change her.

  2. Sarahem - I was very disappointed at first, too. But as I was reading I felt she knew what she was doing - that it wouldn't work - and that she was trying to teach Leo. Maybe a part of her wanted to fit in. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and I think Stargirl was just trying out a personality. It didn't work and at least she realized that.

  3. Good point Chelle. I never thought of it as her trying out a personality. But I still think the MAIN reason she tried to fit in was because Leo wanted her to. I'm going to have to re-read it again with your thoughts in mind, then I'll have to re-read Love, Stargirl and I shall have a definite opinion. :p

  4. +JMJ+

    I usually really like Jerry Spinelli for his quirky characters who don't let anyone tell them how to live; but Stargirl, the first one to let someone talk her into changing, is also the one who was so over-the-top at the beginning that I couldn't like her at all. =(

    But that was years ago. I think that if I reread it now, I'll have the opposite reaction to Sarahem's--which should be interesting, aye?

  5. i LOVE love love this book. i taught it for a YA book club and got hooked! it's ok to try on new personalities, i think, cuz isnt that how you figure out who you are?

    sadly, i did not enjoy love, stargirl as much as stargirl.

  6. I listened to this book on books-on-CD with my then teen daughter. The reader of the audio book was John Ritter (the late and marvelous John Ritter.)The whole experience was magical...spending time with my daughter listening to a superbly written book, narrated by a very talented reader. Both my daughter and I have fond memories of the book and the time we shared it together. On the other hand, my older daughter, who is an Elem Ed major in college read it (did not listen to it) and couldn't find the magic.

    I am very glad to see that i am not the only one who reviews books that have been out for a while. In fact I posted a blog on that topic months ago and was looking for others thoughts on the subject. Take a look and join the conversation, if you have time.

    Chelle, thank you for the feedback that you left on my blog yesterday. I will definitely try to join in the Friday Hop when I have time (I'm vacationing this week-end, so not this then) I looked at Crazy-for-Books book review process (it sounds like a round-robin) and decided that I need to focus on my own "reading assignments" for now, but I've bookmarked the page and will go back periodically to see if anything interests me. Can you explain to me how the Friday Hop works. I couldn't figure it out. thanks so much for your help...-Anne

  7. I read this years ago and don't have a perfect memory of it. I remember really liking it but feeling kind of depressed.

  8. I loved that book when I read it as a teen. I had completely forgotten it by now, thanks for reminding me about this great book!

  9. Anne - I left you comments with answers to your questions on your blog!

    Et All: My edition has the first few pages of Love, Stargirl and it didn't have the same allure as Stargirl did. So, I don't have any desire to read it. I loved Stargirl and I don't want to mess it up by reading a sequel. lol. Has anyone who's read Love, Stargirl really like it? Just wondering.

  10. Oh my gosh I loved this book when I was younger! I remember thinking she would be an awesome person to hang out with. I kind of want to go back and read it again now.

  11. My daughter really liked Love, Stargirl, but not as much as the original. Plus, I think she listened to it on books-on-CD. (This book was not read by John Ritter.)

  12. My daughter told me that she is so sure that Stargirl books is so amazing. She wants to have that book so bad. I think my daughter is telling the truth. This review is so amazing.

  13. Great review! This book sounds like fun.

    btw I’ve given you an award. You can collect it here!