Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

Narrated by high school junior Leo Borlock, Stargirl tells the story of nonconformity. A new girl has come to Mica High School, and she calls herself Stargirl. She does nothing like everyone else, and seems to enjoy it. Her clothes are weird, she carries a ukulele and pet rat around with her, and she sings happy birthday to everyone on their birthdays. No one knows quite what to make of her.

After the first shock wears off, she becomes the most popular girl in the school. Ukuleles are seen everywhere and the local pet store sells out of rats. Leo falls for her, hard. But popularity can only last for so long. Soon the very things that made her popular lead to her social downfall, and the students turn brutally against her; even Leo urges her to become “normal.”

Though I’m (luckily) no longer in high school, the story took me back to those days when popularity, or at least social acceptance, seemed to dominate life. Even though it’s been a week or more since reading it, I find myself thinking back to the story, to Leo, and Stargirl, and hoping that I can teach my children that it’s okay to be different.

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