Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #155: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Jerry_Spinelli_-_Stargirl

I move that Manic Pixie Dream Girls be redubbed Stargirls. The titular character of Spinelli’s novel Stargirl (formerly known as Susan) sings people “happy birthday” at lunch with her ukulele, cheers for the opposing team as well as her own, creates photo albums for children she doesn’t personally know to give to them when they grow up, arrives at the school dance on a bike covered in sunflowers, etc. She belongs in the State Home for Manic Pixie Dream Girls.

But I knew it was only a matter of time before she found the boy brain damaged enough to fall in love with her brand of mentally ill. Heck, I was succumbing to her charms a little myself; MPDGs are like drugs, in that they’re alright in small doses, yet once their love is your drug, to quote Ke$ha, and you’re high on them 24/7, it gets to be too much. I could put up with Stargirl when she was just the quirky side-character. Then she became Leo’s love interest, successfully torpedoing that.

The rest of the book then functions as an in-depth look at the dark side of the MPDG. I don’t know whether or not that was intentional on Spinelli’s part, but it’s what I took away from Stargirl. Her efforts to be “normal” late in the book were Stepford Wife level creepy.

I guess I should be thankful that, in the end (SPOILER ALERT!)… Leo breaks thing off with Stargirl. Except he also unleashed her on the unsuspecting masses, as she skips town soon after having one final fling as the town MPDG. I’m sort of afraid to read the sequel and see what horrors happened once she moved her MPDG show elsewhere… (END SPOILER ALERT!).

That being said, the only logical conclusion to her story is someone having her committed, and so I’ll still read the sequel in the hopes that it happens. It most likely won’t, because, to quote Ben Folds, hope is a bastard, a liar, a cheat, and a tease. Kick its backside. It ain’t got no place in stories like these.

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dsbs42’s #CBR5 Review #5: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

stargirl

*Minor spoilers ahead*

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.

Read the rest here!