Having lived in an isolated patch of Arizona for a few years, 16-year-old Leo Borlock's kept up a fairly routine, uneventful life. Now a junior at Mira Area High School, he's basically confirmed his little niche in this "hotbed of nonconformity" he calls home.
That all changes the day Stargirl arrives. Stargirl (her real name) Caraway isn't your everyday new student, even judging by the homeschooled-all-her-life conditions she's grown up around. Cooky, quirky, outgoing and ultra-charismatic, she single-handedly turns the school on its head, her outrageously different behavior--combined with a genuine indifference to peer approval--drawing more attention by the minute. Stargirl wears kimonos and buckskin to school. She plays the ukulele in the cafeteria at lunchtime. She carries around a pet rat named Cinnamon. She laughs when there's nothing to laugh at. She goes to funerals for people she's never met. She cheers for the visiting team. There never was nor would there ever be a "new kid" like Stargirl. Leo's as sure of that as he's sure, since the first glance, that he's hopelessly in love with her. But when her individuality and refusal to comprimise--those same magnetic qualities--hinder the ambitions of others, how will Leo be able to reconcile his love for Stargirl with the anxiety of disapproval?
Jerry Spinelli's perhaps best known for his tweener novel Maniac Magee about a boy wandering a city alone, befriending various people and serendipitously bridging social divides in the process. Like this and many of his other works, Stargirl is a shining reminder on the uniqueness of individuality and society's stubborn tendency to conform to certain distinctions. Though readers may find it easier to identify with Leo's inner struggle than with how Stargirl's singularity is able to impact the collective population, broader themes of universal compassion and mutual integrity are well-realized by the story's end. This book is well worth it for anyone seeking a fun and enlightening read.