Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

4 Stars

“And I think every once in a while someone comes along who is a little more primitive than the rest of us, a little closer to our beginnings, a little more in touch with the stuff we’re made of.”

Conformity.

It’s a sin we’re all guilty of. This short and incredibly light novel contains more substance than most young adult books out there. It tackles two of the most important problems of today’s society: Freedom and Individuality.

Stargirl, the titular character, might seem hard to understand. In fact, it might even be impossible to fully comprehend her. To an outsider, she’s goofy, weird and she’s as different as a person could be. But the core of this book focuses on how individuality can sometimes be mistaken for strangeness. We might not realize it, but conformity and fear of rejection are the greatest hindrances to true freedom.

Why was Stargirl so different from the rest of Mica High? She wasn’t. She was just too free and too sure of herself to care about what other people thought of her. She personified what we were all afraid to be: ourselves.

“It’s in the morning, for most of us. It’s that time, those few seconds when we’re coming out of sleep but we’re not really awake yet. For those few seconds we’re something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are, for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then…”

I think the students judged Stargirl because they couldn’t understand how she could be so free. That kind of individual freedom was so rare and so unseen that when people saw it, they found it absurd and crazy. People are afraid of the things they can’t understand, and Stargirl was beyond their level of comprehension.

One moment that really stuck to me was Stargirl’s happy wagon. I found it very relevant on how much “pebbles” she had while she was being herself, and how so much little she had when she started to conform and “be like everybody else”. Susan was confined by the norms of her peers, and it made her unhappy. I thought the author beautifully showed the relevance of this through the happy wagon: True freedom brings happiness.

Also, when she returned Hilari’s slap with a kiss, I thought that showed more about the huge gap of growth and maturity between the two characters more than all of their conversations combined. Stargirl was above all of them, and she knew that.

“Gave up herself, for a while there. She loved you that much. What an incredibly lucky kid you were.”

This short book doesn’t take much time to read. One could easily finish it in one sitting, but it’s definitely one of those books that shows you more than what you were expecting to see. Stargirl isn’t much of a coming-of-age story. In fact, I think it’s more of a personal one, one that helps us rediscover and find ourselves. “Star people are rare. You’ll be lucky to meet another.” I might never get to fully understand Stargirl, but I’m a step closer… closer to finding the courage to be myself, and not be afraid of judgment. Star people are indeed rare, and I think we must all aim to be one.

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