Stargirl and Love, Stargirl

cover image for Stargirlcover image for Love, StargirlSpinelli, J.  (2000) Stargirl. New York, NY:  Alfred A. Knoff

Spinelli, J.  (2007) Love, Stargirl.  New York, NY:  Alfred A. Knoff


Leo Borlock, like every other normal kid in the world, knows there are things you just don’t do in high school.  Such as strutting up and down the cafeteria, singing folksy songs with your ukulele.  Or cheering for the other team.  Or going by a name like Stargirl Caraway.  Still – Leo finds himself increasingly drawn to Stargirl and her antics.  The only problem is, a relationship with her is sure to brand him an eternal outcast at school.  Which will Leo choose, Stargirl or high school popularity?

Stargirl should be nothing more than a manic pixie dream girl, but Spinelli’s sincerity and understanding of the adolescent psyche makes her as real as Leo or any of his friends.  This in turn makes Leo himself more real, his dilemma even more agonizing, and his decision all the more heartbreaking.  By not giving Leo and Stargirl a Hollywood ending he helps readers remember more than just the value of nonconformity, he acknowledges that actions have weight and consequences.

Love, Stargirl is set the following year and consists of a single run-on letter from Stargirl to Leo.   I very much enjoyed Stargirl’s companions, Dootsie Pringle, Betty Lou Fern, and Alvina Klecko; between Dootsie’s fearless joy, Betty’s fear, and Alvina’s confusion from being trapped between childhood and adolescence, they all work really well as both interesting characters and representations of Stargirl’s own predicaments.  While this sequel is even more teen (vs tween) than the original, Stargirl’s interactions with Alvina will be appreciated by older tween girls who are reluctant to leave childhood behind.

There was just a bit too much “oh Leo!” for me to enjoy it as much as the first, however.  While most  of the book was simply a sweet recounting of a girl getting over her first love, occasionally I wanted to give Stargirl a good shake and tell her to stop being such a Bella.

Best for ages 12-16, 13-17

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