Stargirl is a young adult novel published by Jerry Spinelli in 2002. Its main message is one of nonconformity and a healthy respect for differences. The novel is narrated by a boy named Leo Borlock who is attending Mica Area High in a fictional small town called Mica, located near the desert climate in Arizona. Stargirl is actually a sophomore named Susan Caraway. From the minute she arrives at the school, it’s very clear that she’s not your typical adolescent girl. She’s not crazy about make-up or boys but instead, she seems to see the common awe-inspiring potential in everyone and is not afraid to show it. As a result, she demonstrates what Mica Area High consider to be eccentric behavior by doing things like singing the birthday song to everyone on her ukulele and cheering for both teams as a cheerleader.
Initially, Stargirl is made an outcast but doesn’t seem to care what the others think and continues with her eccentric behaviors. Then she gains a short-lived popularity by joining the cheerleading squad and cheering when both teams score. Her popularity dips again when she repeats the above behavior during the basketball season, comforts an injured player from the opposing team and verbal attacks are made on her personality on the school’s amateur television show, Hot Seat. Stargirl never regains her popularity after the three events but once again, she is determined not to give in.
Stargirl may be eccentric but she is so for the purpose of demonstrating ideal and ultimate kindness to everyone, no matter who they are. It seems as if Spinelli was using Stargirl as a demonstration that we all deserve the same things, that we are all the same on the inside no matter how attractive we are or what we do or don’t do. Stargirl is the ultimate demonstration of what it means to be kind to yourself and others no matter what. Stargirl is a very appropriate story in a time of the paradigm shifting into collective thought of individuality but paired with the unity of what we are all made of.