One of my favorite novels of all time is the young adult classic, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Leo Borlock tells the story of his junior year of high school. It inevitably turns into the story of his first love with the new, formerly homeschooled sophomore who calls herself, “Stargirl.”
It’s a beautiful tale of nonconformity and kindness. It’s the first book I can remember crying over. I have learned some of my most cherished lessons from Leo and Stargirl’s time together. The ruthless backlash from Mica High that followed in some ways shaped me.
Once I read that Madonna owns Frida Kahlo’s painting, My Birth. She uses it to tell who she can be friends with. She apparently said, “If somebody doesn’t like this painting, then I know they can’t be my friend.”
Stargirl is my My Birth painting.
I’ve come back to Stargirl almost a dozen times in the past few months. I do read it cover to cover but afterward, I am continually seeking a chapter that follows an intense encounter of bullying. It begins,
“This was the start of a period that blurs as I try to recall it. Incidents seem to cascade and merge. Events become feelings, feelings become events. Head and heart are contrary historians. “
Before I started reading Stargirl again as an adult, I had been virtually unaware of how blurry an important period of my life is too. As the presence of my own period of cascading and merging became clearer, the period itself became blurrier. Painfully, I squinted closer at a specific memory.
It was a while ago. I had done something profoundly stupid, entirely my fault. Though I could have prevented it then and there I had no idea how to. The consequences were severe but at first uncertain. During this initial period of uncertainty, someone who I hoped would offer some comfort instead shocked me with their twisted blessing.