Stargirl is a 185-page novel written by Jerry Spinelli. It was published in 2000 by Random House in New York. It is targeted at young adults and considered by most "an easy read".

Brief Summary

Stargirl is an eccentric 10th grader who shocks Mica Area High School upon her arrival. Her odd name and clothing are only the initial shock; her actions are much more strange. During lunchtime, she plays the ukulele and sings happy birthday to different students. She brings a tablecloth and vase to adorn her school desk. The story is told to us through the perspective of Leo, a classmate and admirer of Stargirl. The school as a whole seems to form opinions about her and stick to those until they collectively decide otherwise. The story is about "the perils of popularity -- and the thrill and inspiration of first love".


ALA - Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults

Publishers Weekly - Best Book of the Year

Parents' Choice - Gold Award Winner

New York Times - Bestseller

NAIBA - Book Award for Children's Literature


I highly recommend Stargirl for young adults, especially those who are going into high school or some equivalent. It is not a philosophically stimulating novel, or an action-packed thriller. It is a simple story of a girl, a "celebration of nonconformity". I read this book as a freshman in high school and I believe it began change in my perspective on individualism.

So, every once and a while I pick up a book I'm not supposed to read. The other night I was having to sit in a hallway for a couple hours so I could keep a close eye on some rather distraught teenage girls and I picked up this book sitting on the table next to me and started reading it. I read it only because it was there, but I found myself falling into it and desperately turning the pages as I sought to follow the adventures of Stargirl and Leo, the boy who loved her.

While most of the reviews and information on the book cover itself told me this would be a "true celebration of nonconformity," I found something else in the book. Stargirl was the personification of what I consider to be the ideal human being. Where I expected to find a teenaged girl acting weird for the sake of acting weird, I found something far more inspirational.

I don't know if Stargirl author Jerry Spinelli was intending to write the message I received. I don't know if he believes in the book's promotional tags as a celebration of nonconformity and examination of the nature of popularity. Stargirl is not just weird. She's beautiful.

At first we are greeted by her strange mode of dress, which tends to vary depending on her mood. She plays a ukulele and carries a pet rat around with her wherever she goes. The makings of a general weirdo, right? Just as I expected. This is going to be one of those books where we're innundated with the far out strangeness of a character for the sake of some chuckles.

As the pages went on, the behavior of Stargirl took on deeper meaning. She sings "Happy Birthday" to people while playing her ukulele in the lunch room at school and she doesn't care whether they want to be sung to or not. She sends flowers to lonely people and makes greeting cards to send to people she sees as facing various milestones in their lives by reading bulletin boards and the back pages of newspapers. She shows up at funerals for people she doesn't know. She can't understand what is wrong with this behavior or why anyone would be upset by it.

The story is told from the point of view of Leo Borlock, a student at Mica High School where Stargirl has suddenly appeared after being homeschooled up to that point. She hasn't been exposed to the need for acceptance within the social strata of school, so she just goes on being who she is. Leo becomes fascinated with her and eventually falls in love with her, but he struggles with how she, and eventually they, are perceived by the student body at large. At first she is viewed as merely a weirdo, and then her behavior and actions lead to a burst of popularity that eventually ends in a "shunning" when her stint as a cheerleader finds her cheering for both the home team and the opponent and rushing to the side of the injured star of the opposition's basketball team.

You can't do that, Leo explains. She doesn't understand why. Doesn't everyone deserve to be cheered for and to be comforted in time of need?

Leo eventually finds himself in a place where he must decide who matters more to him, Stargirl or acceptance from his peers. The struggle will lead him to a place inside. To see where that struggle leads, you'll have to read the book. You can pretend it wasn't written for "young adults." Sometimes it doesn't matter.

Then, if so inclined, give it to a young person you love.

Comic book superhero, published by DC Comics. The character was created by writer Geoff Johns for the "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E." series in 1999.

Stargirl was actually Courtney Whitmore, the teenaged stepdaughter of Pat Dugan, who had secretly been known during DC's Golden Age as Stripesy, the adult sidekick of the teenaged hero, the Star-Spangled Kid. Courtney didn't like Pat and hated having to move from Los Angeles to boring Blue Valley, Nebraska. When she discovered Pat's secret identity while unpacking moving boxes, she also found the original Star-Spangled Kid's Cosmic Converter Belt; wearing it gave her some measure of enhanced strength, speed, and agility, as well as giving her the ability to fire "shooting stars" at enemies. Hoping to spite Pat and, she hoped, convince her mother to divorce him, she became the new Star-Spangled Kid, fighting the forces of evil in Blue Valley. Pat, meanwhile, built an oversized suit of armor called S.T.R.I.P.E. so he could keep an eye on his stepdaughter and keep her out of serious trouble.

Eventually, Courtney reconciled with Pat, and she started calling herself Stargirl, after Jack Knight, the retiring Starman, presented her with the Cosmic Staff that the original Starman invented. Now able to use the Cosmic Staff to fly and manipulate cosmic energy, she joined the revitalized Justice Society of America, quickly becoming one of the comic's most popular members. While a member of the JSA, Stargirl has fought supervillains, traveled through time, been temporarily aged to adulthood, and served as a mentor for other young members of the Justice Society.

Stargirl learned that her biological father worked as a supervillain minion and eventually came to terms with his preferred line of work after he died in a storm. She briefly dated Captain Marvel -- his alter ego, Billy Batson, is actually a year or two younger than Courtney -- but he broke it off because people who weren't aware of his secret identity would think he was robbing the cradle. She's also been close to Atom Smasher, a character who has frequently crossed over from hero to villain and back again.

Geoff Johns has said that he based Stargirl's personality on that of his sister, Courtney Johns, who died in 1996 in the explosion of TWA Flight 800. With any luck, her status as an almost-real person should make her immune from DC's all-too-frequent fits of "Let's kill some random chick just so everyone knows we're badass."

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