“Stargirl:” From the Books to the Big Screen

Shwar Zaidi, Staff Writer

Those who read Jerry Spinelli’s “Stargirl” in their youth can now relive their childhood by watching the 2020 film adaptation of the book.

The movie follows a boy named Leo (Graham Verchere) and his interesting, unique and free-spirited classmate named Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal). It is about their struggles to overcome what other people think about them.

Leo’s 16th birthday is Stargirl’s first day at Mica High School. She surprises Leo and the rest of the cafeteria by singing “Happy Birthday” to him, despite never talking to him before.

Throughout the movie, Leo admires Stargirl as she steals the spotlight at school. Many of the characters put it best; Stargirl is weird, but in a good way. She is the football team’s good luck charm, cheerfully singing and dancing at games. She becomes a cheerleader, and everyone at school knows her name.

Leo’s friend Kevin (Karan Brar) convinces Leo to ask Stargirl to be a guest on their school production, Hot Seat. Hot Seat is a show where guests are interviewed and asked uncomfortable questions. Stargirl declines, but invites Leo to hang out with her.

The two become close as they start a relationship. Leo progressively feels more carefree and learns how to process his emotions while he is around her.

Things go downhill when a footbball player from the rival team gets injured during a game, and Stargirl rushes to save him. The Mica High students believe Stargirl betrayed them, and caused them to lose. Everyone ignores Stargirl, and she is longer considered the school’s good luck charm.

Stargirl decides to appear on Hot Seat to speak her truth about how she just was trying to help the injured player and was not being malicious. One of the popular girls, Hillary (Shelby Simmons), tells Stargirl her kindness is only performative, and she’s harming other people. Stargirl gets overwhelmed and runs away.

Leo becomes fearful of what people think of him and his relationship with Stargirl. He wants her to change into a normal person to fit in and be more accepted. Stargirl does so, and starts going by her birth name, Susan.

Stargirl realizes she hates living a normal teenager’s life. She wasn’t herself anymore. She breaks up with Leo and lives her own life. They don’t go to the school dance together.

Leo gets a surprise gift in the mail from Stargirl. It’s a record with a song on it that meant a lot to them. At the dance, Stargirl anonymously requests for Leo to sing the song, and everybody dances, having the time of their life. Stargirl apologizes to Hillary, then leaves the school.

“Stargirl” is free to watch with a DisneyPlus subscription. You can also read the book by Jerry Spinelli, as well as the second book from the series called “Love Stargirl,” which focuses more on Stargirl giving Leo a letter about how she has been doing.

The movie and books serve as a reminder to be your true self, and never allow yourself to change for anybody. You shouldn’t care what others think. Instead, live your best carefree life.