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Saturday, August 20, 2005

cover of Stargirl

Stargirl is one of those unique, delightful characters who seems most likely to exist only in fiction-- but you can't help hoping you might get to meet someone like her, or wondering if there have been other stargirls in your life that you have missed out on getting to know because you care too much what other people think. Stargirl's self-chosen name suits her perfectly-- she is full of light, and can't help shining. There is a twinkle about her, but at the same time it's hard to focus on her clearly-- it's difficult to see her well. You might say that, in a sense, Stargirl lives out Walter Pater's ideal:

To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.

This book came up because Sapphire and I were talking about the delightful character Luna Lovegood (she wanted to know if Luna was in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which she has not yet read)-- Sapphire was dismayed that I had not yet read this wonderful book, and immediately brought it out for me to read. I finished it a day later.

It was a bit strange to be reading about high schoolers-- in some ways they seemed too young, and in some ways too old, to be in high school. (Has it been so long since I was in high school? I guess if I met some high school students today I probably would think they were pretty young...) It was fascinating to watch the roller-coaster ride of Stargirl's relationship with the school-- first as the oddball weirdo, then as someone to be emulated. Even in their adoration of Stargirl they were still conformists-- they copied her actions, without really even beginning to understand her, and certainly without living the way she lived.

The story is told through the eyes of Leo Borlock-- an ordinary person who understands peer pressure, and doesn't want to stand out of the crowd or be in the spotlight, but is incredibly drawn to the extraordinary Stargirl. His experience shows how wonderful it can be to spend time with someone so caring and thoughtful and unself-conscious and forgiving, but also shows how easy it is to care too much what other people think of you-- even though they are people you don't love, and who certainly don't love you.

There's a certain sadness to the end of Stargirl, because it shows how easy it can be to overlook or undervalue someone so unique and precious and extraordinary as Stargirl, or yield to peer pressure even when you know and love someone as amazing as this. But there is also a note of hope... It seems that there is hope for humanity, just to know that there might be someone like Stargirl out there.

Author:Jerry Spinelli
Date published:2000
Genre:Young Adult
Number of pages:192


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