Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Last night, I read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. My daughter had read about half of it and quit. She seemed frustrated and angry with the book, and I wanted to know why. It's a great parable about the importance of being yourself. I understand why my daughter stopped reading. The way the teenagers in the story treat the one who is different is infuriating. It also is a bit of an exaggeration. I know that nonconformity is frowned upon and ridiculed in society in general, and especially in high school, but I don't think it is realistic to suggest that almost every single person in a high school would, en masse, shun another person. Even in the most main-stream American high school (like the one my son attends), there is always a small contingent of kids who revel in their otherness. In the book, those kids are represented by only one person. The uniqueness of Stargirl is itself also hyperbole. These exaggerations are why I call the book a parable. They also don't matter. The lesson of the book, and its beauty, make it a worthwhile quick read, especially for teenagers. It helps reinforce one of the lessons I want my kids to learn: "To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive." (Robert Louis Stevenson)

1 comment:

The Civilian said...

This made me think of this classic Chris Rock rant:

"I ain't got six friends now!!! That's three on three with a half court!!"

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