Stargirl

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Stargirl Book Poster Image
A must-read for middle-schoolers to discuss.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 117 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A bittersweet paean to eccentricity and nonconformity, it is also a scathing commentary on teenagers, which makes its popularity with them all the more interesting.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character doesn't have the courage to stand up to his peers, who behave abominably to a girl who is different.

Violence
Sex

A kiss.

Language
Consumerism

The names of stores are mentioned in a trip to the mall.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One adult character smokes a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stargirl is a sort of supernatural character who is difficult to encapsulate, despite her classmates' repeated attempts to pigeonhole her. Few parents will have objections to the content, but there is one scene in particular where Stargirl's peers verbally attack her on a television show. A romantic relationship also develops between the two main characters, but it's completely innocent. Every middle schooler should read and discuss this -- and, fortunately, many of them do.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bySuvorov October 21, 2013

Do Not Pass this one Up!

Wow. I am going to have to extend my all time favorites list to twenty so this makes it on there. Stargirl is a story about... I don't even know how to su... Continue reading
Adult Written byMichael Loughrie October 13, 2015

Nice story!

I like this but you should know I think 12 and up because it involves bad language and involves adult stuff. So yeah, I recommend 12 and up. It's a good st... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 2, 2011

Quite Possibly the Best Book I Have Ever Read

This is a REALLY good book. Leo may not be the best role model, but I really think that Stargirl is because she acts like... herself, no matter what other peopl... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 14, 2010
I had some doubts about this book going into it. I mean, I didn't really like the sound of a book called 'Stargirl'. Man, was I wrong. Stargirl c... Continue reading

What's the story?

11th-grader Leo has never met anyone like Stargirl, and neither has anyone else at Mica High. She dances around the cafeteria playing a ukulele, and never misses a chance to sing "Happy Birthday." She doesn't act right, she dresses weird, and she is always blazingly herself. At first the students are puzzled, then entranced, and Stargirl becomes the most popular girl at school. And Leo is in love.

But just as quickly Stargirl becomes the most despised student, shunned by the others, and Leo, now her boyfriend, is shunned with her. Though she has opened him up to new ways of experiencing life, when forced to choose between Stargirl and everyone else, Leo does what any teenager would do, and that choice reverberates down the rest of the years of his life.

Is it any good?

This is a gently mystical, thought-provoking, and enchanting rumination on conformity. It is, in some ways, a YA version of The Little Prince, or a female version of Spinelli's own award-winning Maniac Magee. A bittersweet paean to eccentricity and nonconformity, it is also a scathing commentary on teenagers, which makes its popularity with them all the more interesting.

Like much of Spinelli's best work, it straddles the line between reality and fantasy, dwelling in the land of legend and allegory. Spinelli himself says, in an interview printed in the back of the book, "the character [is] intended to raise dust in the corners of credibility, to challenge our routine ways of seeing ourselves." It does that -- it's hard to imagine young teens reading this and not having to think hard about their friends, actions, and the outcasts in their own world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Leo is drawn to Stargirl and why he feels he has to choose between her and his friends.

  • If Stargirl showed up at your school, how do you think you and your friends would treat her?

  • Do you see Stargirl as a role model? Why? What about Leo?

Book details

For kids who love a little satire

Our editors recommend

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