I should love this. I'm one of the biggest Jerry Spinelli fanatics on this side of the U.S., I've loved everything else he wrote that I read (except The Library Card which wasn't very interesting to me), and the writing here is probably the best he's ever come up with.
But I DON'T love this book, and I know exactly why: I was Stargirl in middle school.
The only reason I don't hold this up on a pedestal like Mockingbird is because the last third or so of this book is a painfully realistic beatdown of a girl who reminded me of myself (way more loopy and out-there than I was but still very similar to me) until all the joy is sucked out of her by kids who can't appreciate anything "different." And it's awful. Not the writing, no, it stays amazing the whole way through, but it's just a giant punch in the heart after another until Stargirl is forced to leave. I was fourteen when I read this and it shook my very world to see that. I wanted to strangle Hillari Kimble so much, I remember.
In Mockingbird, the book I wish I had as my compass as a kid, Caitlin finds a way to fit into her world. So do Jason in Anything But Typical and (if you want to go older and different in a different way) Virginia in The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things. But until Love, Stargirl, we DON'T see Stargirl fitting in anywhere because the book is told from Leo's point-of-view. This is perfectly fine in most ways, I'm not going to lie. I liked Leo and I think the story really worked from his point-of-view. But seeing all the heartbreak Stargirl goes through and not seeing it end well just was too much to take. I like seeing my misfits finding their place, I won't lie.
I can tell you straight-up that this is an amazing book and you won't regret reading it. And I can also tell you straight up that I will return to it in a few years and love it. But right now, I am nineteen years old, still a bit of a misfit, and not very far removed from the place where the joy was almost sucked out of my life. It hits too close to home. Great book, but weird girls beware.