by Jerry Spinelli
Susan Caraway calls herself Stargirl. When she arrives at high school in a small Arizona town, nobody knows what to make of her. She is the ultimate non-conformist. She doesn't even care about trying to fit in. Her daily mission in life appears to be showering utter strangers with random acts of kindness. For a while she inspires the other students to express their individuality as well, but when her altruism goes too far, they all turn against her. Everyone except the narrator, Leo, a fellow tenth-grader who has a crush on her. Only he can't quite bring himself to accept the outcast role that being Stargirl's friend puts him in. Stargirl has strong themes of conformity, individualism and friendship. It has an unadorned writing style that flows easily. However, I was a little disappointed at the end. I felt there were several avenues the author could have explored more to give Stargirl's character greater depth (her prior homeschooling, her parent's attitudes, her inability to understand conformity- was she mildly autistic? her absolute selflessness- was she a Christian?). Instead, we were left to puzzle over her motives and in the end left just as unknowing as Leo himself.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 186 pages, 2000