Friday, October 26, 2007

review: Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

A new girl, Stargirl Caraway, arrives in Mica, Arizona. The otherwise homogenous student body of Mica High School does not know what to make of the girl who wears long peasant skirts, plays Happy Birthday on her ukulele at lunch, and puts a tablecloth and candle on her desk in every class.

The rest of the book is not so hard to foresee. At first, Stargirl is an outcast, but eventually she becomes accepted and joins the cheerleading squad. Stargirl, as one might expect, isn't your average cheerleader. Sometimes, she cheers for the other team. Eventually, when Mica's basketball team loses, the students turn on Stargirl. In the meantime, Leo, a shy and average 16-year-old boy, falls in love with Stargirl, but is only comfortable with her when they are not at school. At school, the rest of the student body shuns Leo and Stargirl until Leo can't take it any more. To appease him, Stargirl conforms. But, in the process, she loses herself. Eventually, Stargirl reverts back to her true self, and Leo rejects her. Leo is sad about it later.

So, the plot was rather predictable. In fact, the plot came complete with the wise, ancient, and strange neighborhood archaeologist/cryptic mentor. However, some of the elements of the book were impressive. The Arizona setting was indispensably woven into the story. Desert images abound, not the least of which is Senor Saguaro, a giant cactus who almost seems like a character himself. Also, the message of the book is a good, if a little trite, one.

I would recommend this book to tweens, but probably not any other demographic.

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