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Stargirl

by Jerry Spinelli


Book Review

:

Publishers Weekly :

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Part fairy godmother, part outcast, part dream-come-true, the star of Spinelli's latest novel possesses many of the mythical qualities as the protagonist of his Maniac Magee. As narrator Leo Borlock reflects on his junior year in a New Mexico high school, Stargirl takes center stage. Even before she appears at Mica High, Spinelli hints at her invisible presence; readers, like Leo, will wonder if Stargirl is real or some kind of mirage in the Sonoran Desert. By describing the girl through the eyes of a teen intermittently repulsed by and in love with her, Spinelli cunningly exposes her elusive qualities. Having been homeschooled, Stargirl appears at Mica High dressed as a hippie holdover and toting a ukulele, which she uses to serenade students on their birthdays; she marks holidays with Halloween candy and Valentine cards for all. As her cheerleading antics draw record crowds to the school's losing football team's games, her popularity skyrockets, yet a subtle foreboding infuses the narrative and readers know it's only a matter of time until she falls from grace. For Leo, caught between his peers and his connection to Stargirl, the essential question boils down to one offered to him by a sage adult friend: "Whose affection do you value more, hers or the others'?" As always respectful of his audience, Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 6-10-High school is a time of great conformity, when being just like everybody else is of paramount importance. So it is no surprise that Stargirl Caraway causes such excitement and confusion when she arrives at Mica High in Arizona. Initially, everyone is charmed by her unconventional behavior- she wears unusual clothing, she serenades the lunchroom with her ukulele, she practices random acts of kindness, she is cheerleader extraordinaire in a place with no school spirit. Naturally, this cannot last and eventually her individuality is reviled. The story is told by Leo, who falls in love with Stargirl's zany originality, but who then finds himself unable to let go of the need to be conventional. Spinelli's use of a narrator allows readers the distance necessary to appreciate Stargirl's eccentricity and Leo's need to belong to the group, without removing them from the immediacy of the story. That makes the ending all the more disappointing-to discover that Leo is looking back imposes an unnecessary adult perspective on what happened in high school. The prose lapses into occasionally unfortunate flowery flights, but this will not bother those readers-girls especially-who will understand how it feels to not quite fit the mold and who attempt to exult in their differences.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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