Stargirl begins with Leo Borlock, the narrator, receiving a porcupine necktie from his uncle as a farewell present. This is the only porcupine necktie he owns until he received his second porcupine necktie as a birthday present from an anonymous sender. The mysterious gift sender turns out to be Stargirl, and although this fact is told only during the latter part of the story, it can be easily inferred at the first few chapters.
Susan (Stargirl) Carraway is homeschooled for most of her schooling years and when she enrolled at Mica High, everybody noticed. It is because Stargirl is not just new. She is different. She wears different clothes, she decorates her desk, she plays the ukulele (what is a ukulele, anyway?), and she sings Happy Birthday during lunch hour, among many other oddities.
This is my first time to read a book by Jerry Spinelli and I think I now understand the raves and positive accolades he has received for Stargirl. The writing is simple and comfortable, and the characters are easy to get acquainted with. I find it easy to fall into the sympathetic character of Leo and I can understand how the entire student body try to figure out (though failing) the mystery that is Stargirl.
Stargirl may be a short read, but it is pregnant with relevant themes and lessons every teenager can learn from. Being different is indeed a rarity especially in a high school environment and I can truly relate with Leo as he struggles between his feelings for Stargirl and his feelings about being disliked by his classmates. High school is where most normal teens start to discover their identity and to crave for belongingness. When I was in high school, I remember begging my mother to buy me a pair of sandals exactly the same as that of my peers. I felt at the time that having a different footwear would affect their acceptance of me and the possibility of being banished (shunned is the term used in the book) from my barkada seemed to be the most devastating tragedy. Of course, my outlook has changed through the years but I think I understand how everybody in high school looks upon somebody different.
I do not know what religious views Jerry Spinelli has but the part where Stargirl brings Leo to the enchanted place and teaches him to “connect with the earth” makes me uncomfortable. This New Age idea is somehow contrary to my own religious beliefs but other than that, I still find the book very engaging and inspiring.
I like how Stargirl encourages the reader to be comfortable with himself and be proud of his own identity. These are lessons not only teens should learn, but adults as well. Like Stargirl, let us live in the present, enjoy life’s little blessings and be a blessing to others with random acts of goodness.
I can’t wait to read the sequel, Love, Stargirl.