We all have a Stargirl in us.
This book was on my assignments to read during my yoga training, and my teacher, Danny, cleverly included this fun read amongst our other more heavy mandatory reads of Vedic scriptures, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and more. It is a book that would allow us to forget our ego, he said. It spoke to me, since in high school, I felt different from a lot of my peers, in the issues and things I thought about and wrote poetry as my creative expression of those feelings, but yet still always cared deeply about what my friends thought. Stargirl herself reminded me of my sister, Mili, who never blinked twice at what others thought of her unusual and unique style and personality.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli can be deemed as a classic. It was published in 2000, a year after I graduated high school, and if it was out during my high school years, I could truly see myself loving it back then, just as much as I did now. It has since been acclaimed a s a New York Times Bestseller, a Parents Choice Gold Award Winner and in the ALA, (American Library Association), Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults list.
The plot is centered around the feeling of adolescent peer pressure, and then there’s Stargirl, a high school girl who is different from everyone else. It covers the issues we all faced, and that your teens will face in high school, such as the conflicts and need to conform, and the reveling curiosity about those peers who don’t like Stargirl, and at the heart of the story is what high school students deal with daily-the ups and downs of popularity and the trends of the time.
Along with Stargirl, there’s Leo Borlock, who is a 16 year old boy that has been living in the small Arizona hometown of Mica High School all his life, who knows the rules of the school already and how to fit in. He plays ‘the fitting in game’ just like everyone else there, but is drawn to the new girl the most, Stargirl Caraway, whose name is just one that she feels like using at the time instead of her given name, Susan. She was home schooled until that moment she stepped into Mica High and you can tell she is not like everyone else. She wears long flowy dresses, all sorts of different makeup, carries a pet rat around and serenades her classmates with a ukelele. She smiles all the time and is friendly, to everyone, not just who she feels like it with, and doesn’t care if she doesn’t make friends; is content with being happy with just herself. She basically marches to her own beat through out the story, and of course Leo loves every bit if her confidence and the way she has something that everyone else is missing. When the rest of the school decides that she is actually ‘a freak’, it seems that Leo has his own battle with his unconforming girlfriend and his need to be accepted. We see Stargirl shift to please Leo, lose her magic, and then find her way back to her own individuality.
It’s a great book to read with your teen/pre-teen, reminding yourself of your inner Stargirl, as well. Plus it gives you both something to talk and bond about. It’s a story we all have faced as adults, in one way or another, and a story we would love our kids to know, allowing and teaching them to hold on to their inner Stargirl in the whirlwind of high school pressures. It reminds ourselves too, that it is not always about what others mothers are doing, being, saying or buying…but about being authentic, setting the example of truth for our families, and ultimately for ourselves.
“You’ll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know.” -Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl.
If you’ve read this book or if your teen is reading it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it below