Stargirl, Stargirl, Stargirl… the first time I’ve read this book I was 13 years old. Thirteen, naive and easily impressed. I devoured books like chocolate bars and emptied the shelves of my local library. And perhaps the fact that I’m now here blogging about it has something to do with the way Jerry Spinelli’s words affected me.
Just like with The Little Prince, Stargirl has that magical element that makes even the most cynical people smile like a goof. Yes, it’s a YA contemporary novel. And yes, it is set in an average American town, where people are obsessed with their conformity and refuse to accept anything that is ‘weird’ or ‘different’. But Stargirl, oh Stargirl, she changes everything.
Reading the story through Leo’s point of view, a boy who obviously can’t help but fall in love with her, we simultaneously fall for this quirky girl and her colourful personality. It’s not only because of her style, her words or her actions, that we admire her. We, or at least I, am amazed by her courage to go against the crowd, her innocent kindness and her genuine heart. Stargirl is boundless, and she has to live in a world where people can’t survive without a definition. Where everyone wants to be put in a box, to belong to a group, to become somebody. Because no one wants to be alone. No one wants to be mocked for being different. Perhaps you might think that things have changed now and being different is a trend, but if I asked you ‘are you truly yourself today? Are you doing what you really want to do?’, what would your answer be?
Stargirl is my hero, because just like any other hero, she’s imperfect. She too falls in that trap of young love and peer pressure, and decides to change herself for Leo, the boy that suffers because his girlfriend isn’t popular. And don’t get me wrong, I understand him. I understand him so much that when they fight I’m never sure if I’m crying because I feel his pain as he tries to explain it to her or because I feel the pain of Stargirl, the poor Stargirl that tries so hard to understand what’s wrong with her, that just wants to make him happy.
She crumbles. She becomes everything she isn’t and betrays herself. She becomes a copycat, a follower. But then she gets on her feet again and amazes everyone. Because she’s Stargirl. “She’s elusive. She’s today. She’s tomorrow. She’s the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl.” She’s not a manic pixie dream girl. It should be illegal to put a label on such a character.
Because this story isn’t about Leo. It’s not about the way he becomes this and that because he’s met this amazing girl and she revolutionised his life etcetera etcetera. This book is about Stargirl. It’s an inspiration for young boys and girls, a reminder that they should never forget who they are for someone else. It’s about self discovery and appreciation of little things. Because at the end of the day, it’s the little things that matter. It’s a lesson that adults so easily forget, that there is a world out there and we should pay attention to it; that there’s beauty in simplicity and we should never get tired of it.
Stargirl knows these things. Stargirl wants you to remember.