Stargirl – Review – ****
Posted by dsbs42
I have been incredibly busy lately finishing up the memoir project, as the deadline for the completed manuscript is the end of this month. So perhaps staging this “one post per day” nonsense could have waited until next month, but oh well.
I started out frankly irritated with the self-indulgent purposefully bizarre antics of the eponymous Stargirl, to be perfectly honest. But she, and the book, really grew on my by the end. The writing was impressively thoughtful for YA lit, and the characters and high school setting was fairly believable. I’ll admit that my high school experience seems to have differed greatly from most of pop culture’s conceptions of what it’s supposed to be like – I never felt pressured to change my behaviour or who I hung out with, and while there were cliques, it was mostly based on mutual interest (the “art people” (aka the druggies), the “Mac geeks,” the “music hallways group”), and you could belong to all or none of them, if you chose. So the school-wide shunning seemed a bit much, although I can picture it happening due to my exposure to shows like Degrassi, and movies like Mean Girls.
But a girl who devotes an entire office to making note of people’s birthdays, triumphs, failures, and misfortunes, just so she can support and cheer them along the way? That’s universally wonderful, no matter what your experience. So despite the cliché premise, there’s an important message here. And that message is not just to “be yourself and do what makes you happy, regardless of what people think of you,”** but also to simply have less of an ego, to think and care more about other people, humanity, and nature, and less about what clothes to wear.
I also read this book during a very relevant period in my life. As I mention almost constantly, I am currently working on completing a list of 100 Things I’d always wanted to do, but been unable to accomplish for various reasons. Several of these Things (singing lessons, finishing drafts of novels, improv class, drawing in a sketchbook) were meant to force to stop avoiding scary things that I could fail at, and just do it. I read most of this book on the long ride home from my first singing lesson, during which I was forced, for the first time in my life, to sing a Capella, without any other voices or music or shower noises to hide behind. It was terrifying. I closed my eyes and sped through the song (Les Mis’s Stars), going faster and faster until I reached the final line, and then I finally took a deep breath and realised I was still alive. It was so hard, but I also know it’s important to care less about perfection and outcome and more on just doing. And that was another facet of this book’s message.
Stargirl was a tad predictable, but it was true. and doesn’t take the easy way out.
**As important a message as this is, the way it has been presented in pop culture has always rubbed me very slightly the wrong way. Sure, whistle off-key if you want to, but not, say, while other people are trying to have private dinner conversations. Sing happy birthday to people, but not to shy wall flowers who would be mortified rather than thrilled. Play the ukulele of the drums, but not when someone’s trying to sleep. It’s one thing to be true to be yourself, but it’s another to do it at the expense and annoyance of those around you. So yeah, praise Stargirl all you like, but she’s still a kid who needs to learn some freaking boundaries.
Cannonball Read: 44/52
(Cannonball Read V: 5/36)
Posted on February 18, 2013, in 100 things in 1000 days, Book Reviews, Books, Cannonball Read 5 and tagged ****, 100 things in 1000 days, annoying others, being yourself, ego, individualism, Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl, young adult. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.