Southwest Children's  Literature

Sun Logo



Susan Caraway is a VERY unusual girl. She wears long, lacy, granny-style dresses. She plays a ukulele out on the school lawn, and doesn't seem to care if people are laughing and staring. She sings Happy Birthday to everyone on their birthday, even for people she's not friends with. Probably strangest of all is the fact she calls herself STARGIRL.

When Stargirl shows up at Mica High School in Arizona, no one knows what to make of her. Is Stargirl crazy? Is she even for real? The fact that she's been home-schooled can't quite explain Stargirl's weirdness.

The other students initially keep their distance from this crazy chick. But after a while, Stargirl's generosity, kindness, and enthusiasm begin captivating hearts, including the heart of the book's narrator, Leo Borlock. At lunchtime, a flock of students gathers around Stargirl's table. She even becomes a cheerleader, and cheers so energetically that the traditionally apathetic students at Mica High School begin to attend basketball games and eventually start to believe that they can win the championship. That is, however, until Stargirl begins cheering for the other team... an action far too strange and generous to be acceptable. Hence, Leo Borlock asks Stargirl to conform and be normal like everyone else at Mica High School. She begins to dress and act like every other girl at Mica High. When she realizes that she cannot be happy as a "normal", stereotypical high school student, she decides to become STARGIRL again.

Stargirl is a book about being proud of who you are. It is a story about individuality versus group-think. It's about inspiration and love, and a reminder to be generous, to make person-to-person connections. It's a poetic riff set in a dry, dusty desert. It is also about one of those special types of friendships that come along only once in a rare while. In this book, you'll meet a cast of characters you'll never forget. A girl who saves the blonde hairs she finds on her pillow to give to birds for their nests. A boy who collects porcupine neckties. A paleontologist who gets advice on the most serious issues from...a cactus named Senor Saguaro.

Teachers will find Stargirl to be a delightful addition to their curriculum as it is a highly enjoyable and readable novel. Students will no doubt engage in spirited discussions involving such diametrically opposite ideas as conformity/nonconformity, individuality/community and punishment/forgiveness. Jerry Spinelli has created a character like no other in Stargirl, for which he deservedly won the YALSA Best Books for Young Adults award in 2001. Stargirl is sure to become a modern classic within young adult literature.

to mainpage

About the Book | Booktalk | Students' Voices | About the Reviewers