Monday, November 3, 2008

*Stargirl*

As a middle schooler I had heard of the book Stargirl from a number of friends who read it and loooved it, so I thought what better excuse to catch up on some good 7th grade literature!

The book is narrated by a high school boy, Leo, who attends your everyday high school, full of fear of being different and striving to conform, "If we happened to somehow distinguish ourselves, we quickly snapped back into place, like rubber bands." So when this breath of fresh air comes in, Stargirl (previously she called herself Pocket Mouse, Mudpie, Hullygully, depending on her mood) she shakes up the entire system of Mica High School. Not only is she the new student, but she is a new breed of human to these students trying so hard to fit in, they would almost rather go unnoticed. But Stargirl truly appreciates everyone in her community and tries to give everyone a little spotlight or gift. She sings Happy Birthday with her ukulele to who ever is celebrating, she gives gifts to her homeroom on holidays and she cheers for everyone playing the game, not just the home team.

Although people are weary at first of her antics (the singing, having a pet rat, carrying around a large sunflower in her bad and NO MAKEUP!)they begin to embrace her enthusiasm for life and her ability to lift the spirits of all those around her...so she becomes a cheerleader! Unfortunately to Stargirl the game itself is more exciting than who wins and she cheers for both teams, this does not sit well the Mica High students and when their team starts losing she becomes the scapegoat. Throughout this whole time Leo has been observing Stargirl, and becomes more curious and infactuated by her, as does Stargirl with him. The two become close, right at the time when the whole school has decided to give Stargirl intense silent treatment, ignoring her to a point that would be unbarable for any other person (that is a person who strongly relies on caring about what other people think).

Leo begins to see the world in a whole new light, as Stargirl shows him the things he has been overlooking all his life, the simple things, the song of the mockingbird, the desert, how one house always changes the color of their door. He is 'seeing' for the first time. Even though Stargirl is amazing, enlightening and he feels strongly for her...he cannot stop worrying about everyone else. The wise old man of the town, Archie, tells him he has to choose: who matters more to you, what she thinks or what everyone else thinks. Unfortunately instead of realizing that "everyone" does not matter as much as we think, Leo tries to change Stargirl into an 'anybody'. He is embarasses by her, too worried about the others. So, she changes for him, her long flowing dresses into jeans and a tee, wears makeup, carries her book, loses the rat and sunflower and tries to be ordinary, but still people shun her. The whole time Leo is debating between his true feelings for Stargirl and his battle to be acknowledged and not associate himself with her, becasue she is unpopular. I won't ruin the book for you by spoling the ending but her good deeds go through a rollercoaster of acceptance and the mystery that surrounds her continues on.

Overall I just loved Stargirl and was a little jealous, the reason why most people in the high school despised her, of her selflessness and how connected she was wither her community. Throughout the book Leo talks about 'the way things are' but the more you see it from Stargirl's perspective you see how silly we are about things. We focus on what others think, how they will react and worrying about "everybody" when we dont know this illusive everybody! Stargirl was actually connected to her community, to this everybody. She celebrated peoples fortunes and cried at thier disfortunes, and truly cared. But people feel guilty when they see someone so committed and selfless and therefore attack that person rather than emulate thier good ways.

Stargirl is an individual,she marched to the beat of her own ukulele. I did not enjoy the part of her conforming to please Leo (even thought she did it because she loved him) because if he truly cared he wouldn't have asked that of her. She was a community builder, making connections with others, giving personalized gifts and not even wanting the credit. I could seriosuly go on and on about her and how amazingly in tune she was with herself and her environment but you can do this quick read at home (if you want to borrow my book feel free!) She was an activist, fighting against conformity and the protective walls we have seemed so eager to build up in our society.
"It was a rebellion she led, a rebellion for rather than against. For ourselves. For the dormant mud frogs we had been for so long."

There are so many cute details in the book that I couldn't cover so here are some fun things that Stargirl did: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/stargirl/societies.html

Also, the sequel came out in 2007 Love, Stargirl which is told from her point of view!

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