Saturday, January 1, 2011

Love, Stargirl

Title:  Love, Stargirl
Author:  Jerry Spinelli
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers
Year:  2007
Pages:  288
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Age Level:  6th Grade and Up

Stargirl (Stargirl, 2000) is disappearing. She and her family (including pet rat Cinnamon) have moved to Pennsylvania, leaving her boyfriend, Leo, behind in Arizona. "Can you lose your favorite person without losing yourself?" she writes in one of the many letters to him that comprise an epistolary companion to Spinelli's first story of the eccentric, large-hearted, happy-to-a-fault teenager. The questions abound: Will she be reunited with her Starboy, or will he be replaced by Perry, the petty-thieving, dangerously attractive new boy in her life? How will she help her new friends (five-year-old motormouth Dootsie, angry Alvina, agoraphobic Betty Lou, grieving widower Charlie, developmentally disabled Arnold)? And are the many genuinely nice moments in this novel buried under too much sentimentality, whimsicality, and self-conscious cuteness? The answer lies with individual readers. (from Amazon)

When I started reading Love, Stargirl, I was concerned that having Stargirl herself narrate the book would somehow take away from the myth of Stargirl that was created in the first book.  Seeing Stargirl through Leo's eyes made her seem so magical, I wasn't sure if the effect would be the same.  I shouldn't have worried.  If anything, Love, Stargirl gives the character a depth and authenticity that would be impossible without seeing some of her inner life.  And the story brings home the idea that to a large extent we choose how we see and act in the world.  Things don't always go as planned, but each of us is empowered to choose how we frame our thinking, and how we respond to the challenges that life throws our way.  I will admit to crying at the climax of the book, when Stargirl has her Solstice party, and the beam of light that is her touches so many lives in such a positive way.  What I hope that Stargirl gives to the teens who read about her is faith in themselves, and the courage to be who they are, even in the face of society's differing expectations.

1 comment:

  1. I love Stargirl! I have been meaning to read this one.