“We wanted to define her, to wrap her up as we did each other, but we could not seem to get past “weird” and “strange” and “goofy.” Her ways knocked us off balance. ”
One of my favorite books from childhood is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. The story is told by a high school junior, Leo, who is intrigued and greatly affected by a new girl in school, Stargirl. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but this book is amazing. It shows the hive mind of high school and the world in general. it shows how people react to those who are “different”. It delves into what is “real” in life, and what we merely construct. It focuses on teenagers growing into adults, interacting with adults, and figuring out what this world is all about. A main point of the book is that it’s the little moments in our lives that can have the largest impact.
My partner and I both love books, so a couple of months ago we went to a few different used books stores. I saw Stargirl and just knew I wanted to read it again. Jordan said he was pretty sure there was a sequel. I was sure he was wrong. I would have known about that.
He was right.
We saw the sequel a few weeks later in a thrift shop. I snatched it up immediately. For some reason, I was positive that I had not actually bought Stargirl a few weeks prior, only considered it. So I started looking for the book again so that I could re-read it before I read the sequel. Luckily, when cleaning my room, I found the book before I bought another copy, but honestly if I ended up with two, I would have just given one to one of my friends. Everyone should read this book. And now I can say that everyone should read both of them.
“Nothing’s more fun than being carried away.”
The sequel, Love, Stargirl, follows Stargirl herself instead of Leo. She has moved to a new town and is writing Leo a book-sized letter. Since Stargirl is quite a conundrum, it makes sense that her interactions with people are all very interesting. We meet a lot of really cool people and see their lives, how they handle struggle, and how they cope with loss, pain, and fear.
I always felt that Stargirl had some sort of magic about her, most likely because that is how Leo viewed her. In the sequel, you see that Stargirl views the world as magical. In both books, Jerry Spinelli uses poetic language in such an easy-mannered way that it has all the depth of classic poetry without being daunting.
You may need tissues when reading these, because I definitely cried when reading the second book. I’m not sure why. It wasn’t particularly sad, though there is a lot of hardship for a lot of the characters. It shows life, both good and bad. I was not surprised by the ending, which was perfect. I think I cried because there was so much of real life in there, and sometimes life is tear-worthy. Also, I did finish it pretty late at night, so some tears of fatigue may have been mixed in there.
“The earth is speaking to us, but we can’t hear because of all the racket our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then – maybe – the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.”
Anyway, you should definitely read these books if you have not before. They are worth the time (which isn’t much; they are fairly quick reads) and are full of thought-provoking, insightful writing and great stories.
What is a favorite book of yours from childhood? Have you re-read it as an adult? Was the experience different?