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Book Review

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

No one knows how to react to the new girl at Mica High. She wears long pioneer dresses, sings to people in the cafeteria and calls herself Stargirl. The students are stunned at first, then enamored by the passionate young lady who leads cheers for their mediocre sports teams and brings about a revival of school spirit. Leo, the story's shy narrator, finds himself attracted to her, and she returns his affection. But when Stargirl starts cheering not only for her school's team, but also for the other teams during a game — and the school's sports team starts losing — everyone turns on Stargirl. At Leo's suggestion, Stargirl tries to become more like everyone else so she can fit in better. In doing so, Stargirl begins to surrender everything that made her special and unique.

Christian Beliefs

When Leo tells his mentor, Archie, (see "Authority roles") that the kids at school are ignoring him and Stargirl, Archie mentions the Amish practice of "shunning." He explains that sometimes someone who sins is excommunicated from the church and completely ignored by the whole community until he repents.

Other Belief Systems

Stargirl meditates in her "enchanted" place in the desert. She tells Leo that she tries to "erase herself" so she can feel the earth and universe speaking to her without her own senses getting in the way. Stargirl has a vision that she's going to win the speech contest (which she does). Archie shares his humanistic theories with Leo and later claims people originally came from stars.

Authority Roles

Archibald "Archie" Brubaker is a former paleontologist and teacher, who still offers makeshift classes on Saturdays to interested local kids. While he demonstrates genuine friendship and concern for Leo and his other students, he also has peculiar and/or negative beliefs and habits. He smokes, talks to the cactus in his backyard and shares his mystical/evolution-based views with his students.

Leo describes Stargirl's parent as "normal" (as opposed to their daughter). They support and praise her and don't seem particularly surprised when she succeeds in the speech competition. Mr. McShane is a good-natured teacher who drives Stargirl and Leo to the speech contest and stays to support his student.


The word crap appears once or twice.


After Stargirl kisses Leo, he says, "That was no saint kissing me." The text specifically notes that Leo and Stargirl have separate rooms while they're staying at a hotel for Stargirl's speech contest. After a mean classmate slaps Stargirl, she kisses the bully on the cheek.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

There are Stargirl Societies (clubs) in schools across the nation. Members are encouraged to develop their creativity and demonstrate secret random acts of kindness.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 and up


Jerry Spinelli






Record Label



Knopf Books, a division of Random House, Inc.


On Video

Year Published



ALA Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults, 2001; a Publishers Weekly Best Book, 2000


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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