Friday, November 20, 2009

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

2.5 stars, I guess (I'm having a hard time with the rating... feeling ambivalent)
R- 0

Um.... I'm really not sure what to say about this book.

Having been one of those teens that really doesn't care a ton what others think, I couldn't really understand the narrator. But at the same time, I also couldn't really understand how Stargirl (whose real name is Susan) could have no clue how weird she was. If she was really as observant as she was made out to be she should have gotten it, at least on some level.

It's just kind of a weird book. Stargirl is just kind of an enigma.... both the character and the book.

I guess the message is that you shouldn't conform for conformity's sake, but I honestly don't think that's what teens are going to get out of this book. I really don't.

And by the same token, frankly, nonconformity for nonconformity's sake is just as stupid... and just as unoriginal.

And okay, I guess I went to a bigger high school and that makes a difference, but the whole setup just didn't work for me. This idea that EVERYONE in the school follows the lead of the alpha guy/girl? Really? I don't think I could even identify ONE alpha guy/girl in my graduating class, let alone the whole school. There was tons of diversity, even though I went to a school that was 90% (or more) white, middle class/upper middle class, and LDS. I just don't see how one new weird girl would cause such a huge scandal.

One last note, then I'm going to stop myself before I take stars away. I am not a fan of homeschooling. Yes, I've seen it done well, but I've seen it done really really badly and I think that's more the norm. That said, I don't like the stereotype the book portrays. She's weird because she's been homeschooled. She doesn't get it because she's been homeschooled. While there is some validity to the idea that a child that doesn't interact with peers is going to be less "connected" as they discuss in the book, I don't think it's entirely fair. And like I said, if she was so observant and knew all about all these people around the town how could she really be that out of the loop?

ETA: As I think about this book more, I realize that a friend of mine who went to a very small high school and was in the minority will likely have a totally different opinion because of her experiences. But for me, with my background and my experiences, I've figured out one of my biggest problems with this book-- the whole "conformity v. nonconformity" thing fits middle school, not high school. I think the book would have worked much better for me had it been set in a middle school.


  1. I think it would be really hard to rate books on a star system, other than the five star ones. I don't know how you decide. I have so many different feelings about homeschooling. I'm going to have to consider it, especially for when the little guy is young, because I'm nervous about trusting a preschool with all of his allergies. I read a lot of homeschooling blogs and I'm amazed at the amount of work that the moms who do it "right" put in. But then I see the opposite sometimes too. I'm less worried about socialization issues as the fear I'd forget a major category of learning, or that my son would miss out on the praise of independent parties, if that makes sense.

  2. Yeah it would be hard to send him to school with all the allergies.

    Homeschooling done right is an absolutely insane ammount of work and a lot of discipline on the part of the parent. Frankly, even if I thought it would be a good idea (it wouldn't-- Boo will learn better from someone else) I don't actually think I could do it!

  3. I can't understand why so many people enjoyed this story. UGH! Good review.

  4. :D
    I was totally the devil's advocate at book club!