Amy's Reviews > Stargirl

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
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F_50x66
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Feb 11, 09

bookshelves: best-books-for-young-adults
Read in January, 2009

Stargirl is a quirky romance about a high school boy, Leo, who finds himself in love with an unusual new girl. At first her odd behavior, such as singing Happy Birthday to people in the cafeteria, captivates the school and she is accepted. However, after a while her quirky behavior begins to wear on her peers and she becomes an outcast. Leo by association also becomes an outcast, but unlike Stargirl, he is deeply affected by it. As a result, he asks her to conform and she does because she is also in love with him. However, despite her best efforts to fit in, she is not able to accomplish the acceptance she seeks and finds she is not being true to herself. In the end, she decides to act the way she wants despite the fact that she knows it will cost her Leo.

This book will appeal to teens because it is about high school and fitting in to a peer group. It is about acceptable behavior whether it is bad behavior or good behavior and how that determines the social order in public high schools. All teens struggle with wanting to fit in and how much of themselves they should sacrifice to that end.

Positive Peer Influence is the most striking Developmental Asset in this book. It also deals with Youth Programs, Bonding to School and Achievement Motivation. Finally, Personal Power and Self-esteem triumph in the end.

The only character in the book that might not be believable is Stargirl herself. She is immune to peer pressure until Leo asks her not to be and that is not a quality a lot of people have. However, without her having this quality the story could not unfold the way it does. Leo and his friends, as well as the other students at the high school are very believable.

I would promote this book to teens as a story about social order and inclusion/exclusion. Every teen has been in a situation where they did not fit in and talking about how that felt and what you would do to make that feeling go away would hook a lot of teens. With an older teen audience, I would talk about how much of yourself you should give up to maintain a romantic relationship. Older teens are more resilient to peer pressure, but are beginning to become more serious about who they want to spend the rest of their life with and what sacrifices they are willing to make to be with that person.

4Q, 4P, J
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