Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Book 2/40, Stargirl

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

"people are afraid of people who are different. That's what prisons and mental hospitals are for."

A beautiful book about non-conformity, peer pressure, bravery and being true to yourself. This was the story of Stargirl, a unique and colourful free spirit who has great confidence in her self and her own ability to make others happy. I found myself smiling at Stargirl’s random acts of kindness. She would play the ukelele and sing Happy Birthday to everyone she knew. She would leave gifts on people’s door steps, give surprise gifts of candy to her classmates on Halloween. She would drop coins on the pavement for people to find.  Stargirl was happy(?) to be an individual, a non-conformist. 
We all have someone who changes our lives in a way that we cant even start to describe, and the author has captured this perfectly in Stargirl. 
This isn't, however, a sickly sweet story of do-gooding but a comment on how we all feel we must conform.
It made me sad, but not in the way I think I was being shown to feel.  
Some may say that I have missed the point and that I should want to be more like Stargirl, for my children to be more like Stargirl, for our community to have more Stargirls dancing and singing to each other. I don’t. 
The story seemed to be addressing the old question : be unique and happy with yourself, or conform and make everyone else happy.
I want for myself, and for my children, to be happy and feel the joy of making others happy. Whether that involves individuality, conformity or blending in to a crowd I don’t think is important. 

For me the thoughts that I took away after reading were more about being loving and caring towards others, sharing kindness and ideals, being gentle and understanding, accepting yourself and others for what they are.   
“The theme of uniformity is an ongoing one”
I questioned Stargirl as an individual character. She was unique in a conforming, structured way. She sang Happy Birthday to people whether they wanted her to or not. At times I found myself uncomfortable in her presence. This didn’t seem to be a girl who was happy in her own skin, with her own ideas. I couldn’t help but feel that Stargirl has had difficulty in ‘fitting in’ in the past, and has taken measures to protect her self from the insecurity she felt. Her individuality seems to me to be her armour of protection. 
I longed to give Stargirl a hug and allow her to feel comfortable enough to let her guard down for just a short while, to stop conforming to non-comformity. 
There was a beautiful point in the book where Stargirl took Leo, her beau to her Enchanted Place and introduced him to meditation. It was beautifully written and captured a tangible sense of friendship and acceptance. This was where I felt closest to Stargirl and glimpsed the girl inside her colourful shell of protection. 
My daughter (12) read the book too and claimed that it was quite unlike anything she had ever read before. An inspiration! What better review than that, from a girl within the target audience? 
We will both be reading the next book, Love Stargirl and comparing notes and using the book as a bounce board for further discussions.

Thanks Ceri!

1 comment:

  1. HUGH 'bookclub' discussion! ...will have to do so over a glass or four of wine ;o) xx