Jerry Spinelli, Love, Stargirl, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2007
It’s been one of those long weekends with everyone off somewhere, so I spent the time with Stargirl, reading her long diary-like letter between feeding the cat and doing the cleaning … and writing, of course. Stargirl is so endearing, it is difficult to imagine anyone not wanting to spend time with her even if that might be challenging. And when you do spend time in her company some of her stardust inevitably rubs off on you. And hers is a special brand of magic. It’s hard to put a name to it. She’s different. Being a homeschooler could well have relegated her to the fringes of society, but she has in no way opted out. She is no angry renegade. On the contrary, she is constantly at the very heart of life in her encounters with the people around her. Many of those she befriends are people who are stuck at the limits of society because they are different or because they find living in society difficult. They might greet her with anger or indifference at first, but she persists, coming to appreciate their special brand of being. And in making them feel they are appreciated for what they are, she helps ease them back into the fold. Such a role might make some bigheaded. Not Stargirl. She’s a natural, a solid mixture of self-assurance and self-questioning. Of course she makes mistakes, but through her courage in going out of her way to encounter people who are authentic, however strange they might seem, she learns from every single encounter.
Jerry Spinelli adopts a different point of view in this follow-up to his successful Stargirl book. The entire narration is seen from the perspective of Stargirl as if she were writing an on-going dialogue with Leo, her one-time boyfriend now left behind in another State. Dialogue? Well mostly monologue. But there are moments when she fills in for Leo and converses with him about what is happening to her. Now such inner dialogues can lead astray and she does get it wrong sometimes, but with a little help from her friends she always ends up finding the right way. And as the end of the book reveals, those conversations do not go unheard.