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Friday, February 03, 2006

cover of Stargirl

Read this in less than 24 hours, and plan to lend to two friends. Another wonderful book by Spinelli! Stargirl (self-named) is a new student at the town high school, and she doesn't fit the mold. Nobody knows how to handle someone who doesn't care what they think -- who is unashamedly herself. She sings happy birthday with her ukelele during lunch, wears what might be called costumes to school regularly, has a rat, asks unrelated questions -- all in all people don't have a box for her besides 'weird' or 'unusual'. But there is gradual change from both Leo, the narrator, and the school -- and not in one direction.

"So I just enjoyed the feeling and watched the one amorphous student body separate itself into hundreds of individuals. The pronoun "we" itself seemed to crack and drift apart into pieces. Ironically, as we discovered and distinguished ourselves, a new collective came into being - a vitality, a presence, a spirit that had not been there before." (p41)

That is the beautiful truth - that as individuals become more uniquely themselves, there is deeper freedom. 'We' does not just describe people who act and look like, but instead can describe people with common goals and fears and joys -- who may act and look very differently. This is one thing I take great delight in as a Christian - mature Christians I know are mostly able to be themselves, however 'unusual' it may look. There is freedom in Christ to be myself. Not to be like someone else, but for God to make me more like Christ and in the process make me more the way I was created to be. It is common for fear of rejection and disapproval to keep us from living outside the norm - but Stargirl brings hope that isn't always necessary.

There is an oratorical contest, and Stargirl wins and get to go to state. She practices her speech with Leo, with their wise teacher friend, to her rat and other creatures in the desert, and enthralls them all. When she finally gets to the contest, she gives a completely different speech. Her ability to connect ideas and to speak in ways that people understand is wonderful. Almost mythical.

One of the biggest problems the students have with her is that she cheers for everyone. She doesn't need to win to enjoy life. At football and basketball games she cheers when anyone scores. Where did the idea come that we have to win to be important? How much would it change our lives if we were able to cheer for anyone else who had something good happen to them? What would it take for us to be so comfortable with ourselves that we could rejoice with other people regardless of how we were affected?

Author: Jerry Spinelli
Date published:2000
Genre:Young Adult
Number of pages:186
Notes:Second reading


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