December 7, 2011

Love, Stargirl

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by Jerry Spinelli

Love, Stargirl is the companion to Jerry Spinelli's bestselling novel Stargirl, this time told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old homeschooler Stargirl Caraway herself. From Arizona, the Caraways move to Pennsylvania where Stargirl starts afresh – albeit not without missing the great love of her life, Leo. In order to quell her feelings of loneliness because of the distance between her and Leo, she writes him letters: she wrote him about her new life, her new friends, her Winter Solstice project, and the new boy in her life, Perry.

When I read Stargirl, I loved it so much that I eagerly picked up the sequel, anticipating the next chapters in the life of the protagonists. Unfortunately, it didn't captivate me just as much as Stargirl did.

There were portions that felt dragging and boring, such that I didn't feel all that compelled to read it, unlike its predecessor which I found difficult to put down that I had to read snatches of it in the office just to satiate my curiosity. Because the story of Love, Stargirl was told from Stargirl's own point of view, her luster and vivaciousness that leapt out at me from the first book seemed to slacken off a bit, and she almost seemed like a normal teenager to me. Moreover, the spotlight was veered from her over to the new characters in her life: Dootsie, the little girl who became Stargirl's best friend (and who would be my favorite character in the book); Alvina, the angry betweener whom Stargirl took under her wing; Charlie, who sits everyday by the grave of the love of his life, Grace; Arnold, who always asks if everyone was looking for him, and agoraphobic Betty Lou, who hasn't left her house in 9 years.

What I did like about Love, Stargirl was its depth. Between the lines and chapters, the book spoke about the important things: love, understanding, kindness. There were situations in which Stargirl found herself that bordered on cheesy, yes, but when you get past that, it's so easy to appreciate the underlying virtues. Stargirl is still the model teenager, and every character in the book is so kind and good, it makes you want to be a part of their (perfect) world.

The ending was also very profound. And the part where Leo answers Stargirl's unspoken question, it just breaks my heart.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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