Well I just finished Stargirl and I LOVED it!! Why have I not read this before? Clearly I have been living under a rock. I really enjoyed diving into the life of the main character Susan. Susan, excuse me, Stargirl, is pretty much my idol at this point in the book. Although I was taken back by the fact that she carries a rat named Cinnamon around the school (seriously, how is that allowed?!), I appreciate and admire her individuality. And with that, I began to understand the theme of this book. High school is a time when cliques have been formed and those who stray away and act "different" are often ostracized. While I was reading about Stargirl's experiences of being viewed as a outcast, I was able to relate to her. Throughout high school, I was a bit of a nerd...that's a lie, I was a SUPER NERD. I never hung out in the hallway or skipped class like a lot of my peers. Why would anyone want to miss out on such critical learning time?! Since my face was always planted in a book, I was often viewed as different and ostracized for it. Finding out that I was valedictorian my senior year did not make my situation any better- being a nerd was not "normal" at my school.
Unlike Stargirl, I noticed and cared far too much about how my classmates viewed me. I only wish I had half the strength that Star Girl has. Although her classmates ignored her on a daily basis and thought she was strange for carrying a rat around school, playing happy birthday for people with her ukelele, and putting others before herself, Stargirl did not let this impact how she felt about herself. How can being invisible to everyone and hated not bother her at all? This is a question that I constantly asked myself as I reached further into the book. Stargirl was so sure and confident in who she was as a individual, that she did not feel the need to become effected by the opinions of her classmates. Thinking back to my experiences in high school, it was hard to ignore the views that my classmates had of me. High school is an environment that you're stuck in for several years and being well-liked and fitting in is often at the forefront of everyone's mind.
This is where Leo comes into play. Unlike Stargirl, Leo cares about EVERYTHING that his peers think. Once he aligns himself with Stargirl and they begin to date, he can't help but pay attention to the comments his friends make and how he himself is slowly becoming invisible due to his association with her. I found myself angry with how oblivious Leo was to the importance of individuality and knowing that how others perceive you is not nearly as important as how you view yourself. My opinion of Leo became stronger once Stargirl changed her entire persona and became Susan again, in order to fit in with everyone. After seeing her physical change and how people were paying attention to her again, Leo no longer felt ashamed of being Stargirl's boyfriend. On page 140, Leo states, "I didn't care if others were watching. In fact, I hoped they were. I grabbed her and squeezed her. I had never been so happy and so proud in my life" (Spinelli, 2000) ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I literally wanted to throw my book across the room when I read this. How superficial can Leo really be? It boggles my mind that he can care so much about how everyone perceives him- it's as if he finally receives the justification from everyone that being with Stargirl was acceptable.
By the end of the story, Stargirl leaves Mica High and is never heard from again. I think it was then that Leo finally began to realize how unique and important she was to him. This is a true testament to the fact that we do not realize what we have until it's gone (disclaimer: this sounds as if Stargirl is dead, but if you read the end, you will know this is far from the truth!). For the next few years, Leo can not help but find himself thinking about her and wondering how her life has turned out.
I truly enjoyed every aspect of this book and would highly recommend that you read it! There are many elements and themes that you as a reader will be able to relate to in some way, as well as future students that you introduce this book to. We all go through periods of time when we just want to fit in and be normal. This book raises the important question of: "what does it mean to be normal?" After reading Stargirl, I would say that there is no such thing as normalcy. I hope you read this book and form your own opinion; you will not regret it!