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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli - Summary


"Stargirl" is a young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli, focusing on the themes of nonconformity, individuality, and the challenges of social acceptance in high school. The story is narrated by Leo Borlock, who becomes fascinated by the novel's titular character, Stargirl Caraway, a new student at Mica High School in Arizona.

Plot Summary

Stargirl arrives at Mica High with a burst of color and a whirlwind of energy, immediately standing out with her unique clothes, carrying her pet rat, Cinnamon, and playing the ukulele. Unlike her peers, she cheers for everyone, regardless of the team, and shows kindness without seeking anything in return. Her behavior is bewildering to her classmates, sparking curiosity, admiration, and, eventually, disdain.

Leo, intrigued by Stargirl's authenticity and free spirit, falls in love with her. Their relationship flourishes despite the growing tension between Stargirl's individuality and the school's demand for conformity. As Stargirl's actions begin to affect Leo's social standing, he is torn between his feelings for her and his desire for acceptance.

The climax of the novel occurs at the school's winter ball and basketball championship. Stargirl's unorthodox methods of showing spirit and compassion ultimately lead to her being shunned by the student body. Leo, pressured by his peers, confronts Stargirl about her need to conform to be accepted.


The novel explores the cost of individuality versus the need for social acceptance, the impact of kindness and generosity, and the quest for identity during the turbulent high school years. Spinelli challenges readers to consider what it means to be true to oneself in the face of societal pressure.


"Stargirl" ends with Stargirl moving away, leaving a lasting impact on Mica High. Leo reflects on the lessons learned from his time with her, realizing the importance of being true to oneself. The novel closes with Leo, now an adult, holding onto the porcupine necktie Stargirl left him, a symbol of their unique bond and the enduring power of individuality.