Yes, yes, I know -rolls- I’ll TRY to do BETTER… but I guarantee NOTHING (a)
I usually don’t start books that I think I won’t like… ’cause… I just don’t. So finding this book was hard.
I was “forced” to read this book back in grade eight for English class. I already had a copy of the book ’cause I had ordered it from Scholastic… okay, that’s a lie. My parents ordered something else and Scholastic was all like “Yo man… we’re sorry but we don’t have that book anymore even though we PUT IT IN OUR CATALOG…. so here ya go. Hope this makes up for it!” Now eight year old me was just like, “… what is this?!” and then it proceeded to sit on my shelf for five years. I finally cracked the cover when my teacher said, “We’re going to be reading Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.”
Thirteen year old me was quite pleased since I could use my own book instead of the school’s hacked up version, but I can’t say that I started reading the book happily. It was more of a force of will.
Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.
Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.
Conformity. Me and it are best friends because that’s exactly what I played into five years ago. Sure, at first I hated the book as much as everyone else in my class did. But as I read more, I loved the ideas within the novel, and loved that it was telling everyone not to be a carbon copy of everyone else. However, while I started liking the novel, loving it even, everyone else still hated it. They hated the story. They hated Stargirl. They all wondered why she couldn’t be “normal”. Unlike Stargirl, I caved in. I hated on this book as much as every other kid in my class, words poured out of my mouth, all of them lies. All to fit in.
I look back now and wonder why I did it. Since then, I’ve grown so much, changed my ways. Now, I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, to have my opinion heard by others, no matter how much they oppose “normal”. This book was merely a stepping stone to that change.
Stargirl was probably the first Nerdfighter. Creating her own normal on her own terms. Now-a-days, people will probably pick up this book and love it because of the concept of it all, the ideas that Spinelli had way before the very same ideas because ‘mainstream’.
Back to the point. I hated this book, at the beginning. I was bored out of my mind and walked into it with the thought of just getting through it as fast as possible, because how often are school books fun to read? (I kid, I actually loved most of the ones I’ve been assigned. Except for Lord of the Flies… and 1984. Great ideas, but LOTF was not my thing, and 1984 was drier than the Atacama Desert.(But, of course, I ‘hated’ most of them when asked my opinion of the novels… ’cause peer pressure… and life sucks when you’re a kid)). I wasn’t looking forward to this book, and thought I’d hate it, but I ended up loving it, relating to the characters – to Stargirl’s quirkiness, to Leo’s fear of standing out, to his need to fit in. Even now, I look back and wonder why everyone seemed to have hated the book with such a passion. Did they really mean it? Or were they simply trying to fit in too?
Being the same as everyone else is boring, and I love Spinelli for pointing this out. As Oliver James said, “Why are trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” [What A Girl Wants (2003)]
As with that movie, I seriously recommend this book, if you haven’t read it yet. It’s a real eye opener.
I want to hear your stories though. Have you ever said something you didn’t mean, or stated an opinion that was never yours, just to fit in? Would you still do that, if you had the chance to relive that/those moment(s)?