Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Summary: There’s a new girl at Mica High, but no one seems to know much about her. All they know is that she used to be homeschooled, and that she goes by Stargirl. She’s aloof, eccentric, and a free-spirit… that is, until she catch Leo Borlock’s attention. With Leo by her side, Stargirl begins a school-wide revolution of independence and school-spirit. Everyone loves her and she quickly becomes the most popular girl at school! However, one fateful day, her luck turns, as does the student body against her. They begin to shun her and her differences, belittle her, and make her feel less than. All the while, Leo must decide whether to stick with her, or to cut the ties that bind them together.

Review: I remember having liked this novel back when I read it in eighth grade, so I reread it a couple of weeks ago. I had high hopes based off my prior experience, but sadly I was let down. It seems Stargirl has lost her magic touch for me… but maybe it was just Spinelli’s writing. For starters, the summary makes it sound like the whole story is about Stargirl, right? Wrong. It’s all about Leo, which I found odd. I get what Spinelli was trying to do with having readers be an outsider to Stargirl like the rest of the school, but it was just kind of weird to me to not have any portion of the novel from her point-of-view. Also, Leo was a very boring main character. He did not excite me. I did not feel connected with him. I was very bored reading with his eyes and perspective. I think I would have found the novel much more engrossing had any (or all!) of it been in Stargirl’s perspective as she was, naturally, a much more exciting character. Now again, I get it. Spinelli did it on purpose. Leo is boring, Stargirl is exciting. Opposites attract and all that… but your main character cannot be so boring that it makes your readers unwilling to keep reading. My last thought is that the events of the novel were so random! Each chapter seemed like a standalone story —  a little vignette if you will. Usually I would be fine with this, but I felt like this novel was supposed to have flow, and I just didn’t get it. The main storyline seemed to appear only sporadically, filled with random substories in between. I really liked the idea of Stargirl, but unfortunately the execution fell short for me. 3/5

Recommended reader: Anyone who likes:

  • Realistic Fiction
  • Free-spirits
  • Talk shows
  • Speeches
  • Arizona
  • Deserts and cacti
  • Visions and wise Native American guides
  • Romance
  • Basketball and cheerleaders
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Ideas for classroom:

  • Have the students write a persuasive essay, as Leo, to their peers to convince them to accept Stargirl once more.
  • Have the students find a complete stranger in a safe, public area (such as a mall) and create a greeting card for them with an accompanying rationale as to their choices.
  • Have the students design an ideal wardrobe for Stargirl based on her likes and interests.
  • Ask the students what impact Stargirl’s arrival at MAHS had on the students, the adults, the school climate, and the overall community.
  • Have the students go on a walk through their neighborhood and come up with headlines for a newspaper like Stargirl and Leo did on their walk.
  • Ask the students whether, if they were Stargirl, they would want to get credit for doing all of the good deeds, or if they would be content with the knowledge that they did it, as well as to explain their decision.
  • Ask the students if they would ask Stargirl to change, or to be “normal.” Follow up by asking them what is normal, and how being normal can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. Ask them for their opinion on whether being normal is more good, or more bad.
  • Ask the students what their opinion is of Leo’s choice to choose his peers over Stargirl and why.
  • Have the students write a short chapter describing Stargirl’s future after leaving Mica, including details about her that were evident in the text.
  • Challenge the students to explain why they think Spinelli chose to tell the story through Leo’s point-of-view, as well as why readers do not get the chance to hear Stargirl’s thoughts. Ask how Stargirl’s point-of-view would have affected the novel.
  • Ask the students what Archie’s importance to the novel is, what he provides that no other characters in the story could, and how the novel would be different without him.

Specifics of the book:

  • Genre: Realistic Fiction
  • Grade Level Equivalent: 6.1
  • Lexile Score: 590L
  • DRA: 50
  • Accelerated Reader Level: 4.2 (6)
  • Content Level: 6th
  • Pages: 186
  • Controversial Issues: N/A
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6 thoughts on “Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

  1. I was thinking about re-reading Stargirl, but I was afraid it would have lost its magic. :[ I guess I’ll skip it and keep the memory of how much I loved reading it as a young one. I really like how you do your reviews, with the ideas for the classroom and everything. So awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

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