Read This: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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Good news – I’ve got a new favorite book! After I finished the last book I was on (These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, which was all right, but not something I’d read again), I got out a stack of books on my to-read shelf and asked Grant to help me decide which one to read. He chose Stargirl because he had actually read it (in middle school, apparently, and he couldn’t even tell me what it was about, so I don’t think it really stuck). It’s pretty rare that Grant, a math guy, has read a book that I have not read, so I figured it was probably a good idea to get this one out of the way. I’m so glad I did!

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a charming coming-of-age story set in a run of the mill high school in the desert of Arizona. Mica High is turned upside down when an eccentric new student called Stargirl comes to school – she serenades people at lunch with ukulele song, carries around a pet rat named Cinnamon, and is the exact opposite of normal.

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Her stubborn hold on individuality has an effect on everyone at the school. At first they are wary, then they are mesmerized, then they are self-righteously angry at her oddities, and then they are back to mesmerized again. Throughout all of this, the narrator, a boy named Leo Borlock, can’t stop thinking of the mysterious, magical, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it Stargirl. Before long he is in love, but he does not know how to navigate the intricacies of her unique personality. He tries to convince her to become “like everyone else”; it doesn’t stick for long, though.

She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.

Stargirl is a celebration of individuality at its best. Though the book is classified in the children’s/young adult genre, I am glad I did not read it in middle school as my husband did. While I think that the message is a great one and needs to be taught in schools, I was able to appreciate it so much more now, as an adult, than I think I would have as a kid. With some of the most beautiful prose in a book that I have ever read, Jerry Spinelli weaves a delicious tale of understanding, non-conformity, and kindness. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who believes that individuality is something to be cherished.

Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out? You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain. You wake up the next morning and that today you wasted is gone forever. It’s now yesterday. Some of those moments may have had wonderful things in store for you , but now you’ll never know.

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