Stargirl opens as narrator Leo Borlock begins eleventh grade at Mica Area High School (MAHS) in Arizona, a typical high school where everyone is pretty much the same—all the students wear the same style of clothing, listen to the same type of music, eat the same kind of food, and talk about the same things. Leo, an introvert and observer, is comfortable in this conformist environment. However, on the first day of school, everyone is abuzz about a new tenth grader, Stargirl Caraway, who is wearing a ruffled, old-fashioned dress long enough to cover her shoes, carrying a ukulele, and toting her pet rat, Cinnamon, to classes. And Stargirl’s behavior only gets odder from there: on the first day of school, she starts singing, dancing, and playing the ukulele in the cafeteria. On subsequent days, her outfits include a 1920s flapper dress, an Indian buckskin, and a kimono, and she begins a tradition of serenading students with the “Happy Birthday” song during lunch.
At first, the other students are suspicious of Stargirl and avoid her. She eats lunch alone but does not seem to care. Leo, however, is intrigued by Stargirl—but not bold enough to approach her directly. Instead, he follows her after school as she walks to a house where she leaves something in the mailbox. Once she is gone, Leo looks in the box and discovers she has left an unsigned card reading “CONGRATULATIONS.” Next, Stargirl walks out of town and into the desert, where Leo follows her for a while before finally getting nervous and returning home.
One night, at a poorly attended MAHS football game, Stargirl dances barefoot on the field during halftime; then, once the second half starts, she grabs the football, dances with it, and throws it over the visiting team’s bench, to the delight of the audience. At the next football game, more than a thousand people show up—but Stargirl does not. However, Stargirl is soon invited to join the school cheerleading squad, and she agrees. At the last football game of the season, Stargirl makes her cheerleading debut to a huge audience, and she never stops cheering, even during breaks. She even joins the other team’s cheerleaders and performs wild acrobatics.
Following Stargirl’s lead, other students begin to become more active, vivacious, and individualistic—they join school activities, start new clubs, wear unusual fashions. As those changes occur, Leo is merely an interested observer,...
(The entire section is 1433 words.)
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Introduction and Chapter 1 Summary
Prologue: Porcupine Necktie
Leo begins his story by telling about his uncle’s necktie, the one with the porcupine painted on it. Leo loved that tie and wanted one of his own, but he could not find one. When he was twelve, he and his family moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona. Uncle Phil came to say good-bye, wearing his porcupine tie. In a dramatic gesture, his uncle “whipped off the tie” and promptly put it around Leo’s neck as a going-away present.
Leo loved that tie so much he decided to start a porcupine tie collection. After two years in Arizona, his collection consisted of...one tie. Mica, Arizona, was apparently not a popular place for porcupine ties. On Leo’s fourteenth birthday, Leo’s mother submitted her son’s name and a brief biography to the local paper. Leo read that his hobby was collecting porcupine ties.
After school a few days later, Leo found a gift-wrapped package on his porch with a “Happy Birthday” gift tag on it. He opened it and discovered a porcupine necktie. He could find no name or other identifying marks on the gift to know from whom it came. It remained a mystery, and he had no idea then that “we were all being watched.”
It is the first day of school after summer vacation. Leo Borlock is greeted by his best friend, Kevin, on their first day of eleventh grade with this question: “Did you see her?” Leo had heard nothing, but the rest of the school was buzzing with the news of a new tenth-grade student. Stargirl Caraway was her name, or at least it was the name she announced to everyone in homeroom that first morning of classes. Anyone who had not yet had the opportunity to meet the new girl certainly got to experience her at lunch.
Stargirl is dressed like a flower child from the sixties in a long, off-white dress with a flared skirt and ruffles at the neck and cuff. She has a large, canvas bag embellished with a giant, painted-on sunflower as well as a ukulele strapped across her back. Her hair is long, she wears no makeup, she has a dusting of freckles across her nose. Leo thinks her eyes are the “biggest he’s ever seen.”
Stargirl pulls a sandwich from her bag and starts eating, sitting alone at a table in a room where everyone else is crammed together. As the lunch period progresses, all eyes become fixed on the new girl as she blithely makes her way around the...
(The entire section is 529 words.)
Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 Summary
The second day of school begins much the same way, but today the only topic of conversation is Stargirl. Hillari Kimble is princess of the in crowd and is loudly making her opinion known. She believes the new girl is part of a scam being perpetrated against the student body by the government. When someone asks why, she claims it is an attempt to increase school spirit by giving students something to rally around, which would alleviate the apathy that was rampant at Mica Area High School (MAHS) last year. Kevin hopes she is right so they can capitalize on this curiosity about Stargirl, but Leo is not convinced—until Kevin reminds him they can use Hot Seat to expose Stargirl in front of the entire student body.
Today Stargirl is even more outlandish. She is wearing red bib overalls, her hair is in braided pigtails, and she has rubbed rouge on her cheeks and applied some oversized freckles on her nose. Once again, she eats lunch alone; once again, she prepares to play her ukulele. Instead of playing right away, though, Stargirl walks the room, staring into face after face as if she is looking for something. As she approaches Leo’s table, Leo fearfully turns away from her, though Kevin waves at her. She stops several tables away and serenades a senior boy with “Happy Birthday,” much to his dismay. The crowd loves it, though. Stargirl exits and Hillari begins her tirade once again.
Kevin tells Leo this girl had better be fake, because if not she is in real trouble. MAHS is a school in which there is some variety but not much diversity.
We all wore the same clothes, talked the same way, ate the same food, listened to the same music. Even our dorks and nerds had an MAHS stamp on them. If we happened to somehow distinguish ourselves, we quickly snapped back into place, like rubber bands.
Leo agrees that she will not survive here—or “at least survive unchanged.”
The pattern continues: a 1920s flapper outfit, a kimono, birthday serenades, and greeting perfect strangers in the hallways. In class she asks random, unrelated questions and makes up songs about isosceles triangles. As part of the cross-country team, she turns left when everyone else turns right and never crosses the finish line at the first meet. She is kicked off the team. Stargirl keeps her pet rat in her sunflower bag, and she dances in the...
(The entire section is 775 words.)
Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 Summary
Three things set Hillari apart from her peers: her mouth, The Hoax, and her boyfriend, Wayne Parr. With her mouth she is constantly complaining. The Hoax is a highlight in Mica High history. Hillari tried out for and easily made the cheerleader squad—only to turn it down. She said she hates sports and did not want to flail around and scream in front of empty bleachers anyway.
Wayne Parr is an unlikely match for Hillari; where she is loud, he is silent. He is probably best described as empty. Although he is gorgeous by anyone’s standards, he is a nobody. He is not in sports, is not particularly academic, belongs to no clubs, and receives no recognition. Yet he serves as “grand marshal” of their “daily parade.”
None of the students consciously follow his lead, but if Wayne does not go to a game, neither do they. If Wayne does not ask questions in class, neither do they. When Leo wanted Wayne Parr to be on Hot Seat in tenth grade, Kevin was shocked. Wayne Parr had never really done anything, but Leo insisted that was the point. The most surprising moment of the show was when Kevin asked Wayne about his hero. The answer: GQ, the magazine. Wayne Parr wants to be a model.
That was the end of Leo’s sophomore year, and he had no idea then that anyone could supplant Wayne Parr as grand marshal of the MAHS parade.
Kevin calls Leo from the football game one Friday night (Kevin is one of the few who attends) and tells him he has got to come see the spectacle, which he does. The nonmarching band is on the field (only fourteen participants), and the fans in the stands barely outnumber the band. Kevin grabs Leo and drags him to a better vantage point so Leo can finally see what is causing Kevin’s excitement. Out on the field, weaving between the goalposts, barefoot and in a long yellow dress, is Stargirl. She dances, she marches, she leaps, she spins, and she jumps. The crowd is speechless.
The band leaves the field, the players come out and do a few calisthenics (which Stargirl does, too), and they line up for the second-half kickoff. The officials wave and blow their whistles to get the girl in the yellow dress off the field; instead, Stargirl runs to the football perched on its tee and hugs it to her chest. Her dance continues as she spins and leaps and jumps. The players look to...
(The entire section is 764 words.)
Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 Summary
The drama is palpable as Hillari Kimble’s birthday approaches. The day before the auspicious occasion, Hillari walks up behind Stargirl in the cafeteria and stands behind her. The entire room grows silent, but the only one who does not seem to be aware of the impending confrontation is Stargirl. Hillari moves to stand beside her and introduces herself. There is no need for that, of course, as Stargirl Caraway knows every student at Mica High. Hillari then tells Stargirl that her birthday is tomorrow. Again, this is no surprise to Stargirl, and she says so. Then comes the warning: “Don’t try singing to me.” Stargirl’s faint reply is heard by only a few: “I won’t sing to you.”
The next day the anticipation is almost unbearable. Students know any drama will happen during lunch in the cafeteria, so they hurry through their preliminaries so they can be seated and silent for whatever is to come. Hillari and her entourage enter first. Although her friends are on the lookout for the potential offender, Hillari studiously avoids any appearance of caring.
Stargirl finally enters and proceeds to eat her lunch. The room is abnormally silent—until Stargirl gets up and starts playing her ukulele. She roams the room, as always, but she avoids coming anywhere near the birthday girl. Instead, Stargirl stops at Leo’s and Kevin’s table and proceeds to sing “Happy Birthday” directly at Leo, though she inserts Hillari’s name in the appropriate place. She has kept her word; she did not sing to Hillari for her birthday.
Leo, the object of intense attention by both the crowd and Stargirl, is uncomfortable in every way. When the song is over, the room bursts into applause, Hillari storms out, and everyone wonders why Stargirl singled out Leo. She tugs on his earlobe, announces that she thinks he is cute, and walks out of the room. Leo is somewhat befuddled; Kevin teases him and suggests it is time for them to pay a visit to Archie.
Archibald Hapwood Brubaker (Archie) is a paleontologist who lives in a home surrounded by the bones of creatures long gone. In the bathroom, in the pantry, and on the furniture are bones and animal skeletons Archie either dug up himself or sneaked into his backpack if they were going to be thrown away. Archie is a retired university professor from back east. When his wife died two...
(The entire section is 813 words.)
Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 Summary
Things inexplicably begin to change around Thanksgiving. By the beginning of December, Stargirl is the most popular person at Mica High, though no one is quite sure why.
Cheerleading might be the reason. Stargirl only cheers for the last home football game of the season. The crowds are huge and Stargirl does not disappoint—she never stops cheering. She cheers in front of the home crowd, the concession stands, the other team’s cheerleaders, and the team. At halftime she plays her ukulele with the band, then promptly shimmies up the goalposts and is then chased off the field. No one cares that they lost the game.
Hillari Kimble might be the reason. Shortly after the birthday incident, Hillari manages to grab Stargirl’s pet rat, Cinnamon. She holds him by the tail over the railing of a stairwell, threatening to drop him. Everyone is mesmerized, and Stargirl is silent. Someone cries out for Hillari not to do it. She drops Cinnamon—but only to the floor at her feet. With a final sneer, Hillari walks away from the crowd.
Dori Dilson might be the reason. Dori, a ninth grader, is another rather poetic free spirit who begins sitting with Stargirl at lunch. Soon after, their table is always full.
Perhaps the students have changed. After the Thanksgiving break, students regularly call out “Stargirl!” in greeting, tell others about the quirky new girl, and embrace her in the hallways. Everyone from the most timid to the most gregarious seems under her spell. Many ukuleles are now played at lunch, many desks are adorned with flowers, others dance outside in the rain, and the pet store is sold out of rats.
The first week in December is the annual Arizona League of Women Voters oratorical contest, where students can have the microphone for seven minutes in a public speaking competition. Only three or four students generally participate, but this year there are thirteen. Stargirl, of course, is the shining star of the competition with her performance speech entitled “Elf Owl, Call Me by My First Name.” While the judges are deliberating, they show a film clip of last year’s winner and his triumphant return to his school, surrounded by mobs of cheering students and waving banners. The judges return and name Stargirl the winner; she will go on to the regional competition at Red Rock, and Mica High is proud to call her one of its own.
(The entire section is 576 words.)
Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 Summary
After the holidays, Kevin and Leo ask Stargirl to appear on Hot Seat, and she readily accepts. Leo is surprised, then he realizes that, behind all the crazy clothes and the outrageous actions, Stargirl is more normal than he ever thought possible. It is mid-January and the big interview is scheduled for February 13. Leo’s reluctance is gone, and he promotes the event wholeheartedly. Posters are made, questions are written, and a jury of peer questioners for the live show has volunteered. “And then things changed again.”
Outside in the courtyard of Mica High School stands a five-foot-tall plywood roadrunner that serves as a bulletin board for announcements and messages. This morning there is an odd notice. It is a mockery of the Pledge of Allegiance (including lines such as “with justice and black beans for all”) with a comment that this is how Stargirl says the Pledge every day. No one appears offended, and several students are heard reciting the irreverent pledge the next day.
Shortly after, a new story circulates the halls at MAHS. A senior girl named Anna lost her grandfather and noticed Stargirl crying in the crowd at the gravesite service. Later, at the house, Stargirl is seen not eating but visiting with people in the crowd. Anna’s mother notices her, accuses her of crashing the funeral, and demands that Stargirl leave immediately, which she does.
Then there is the Danny Pike incident. Danny is a nine-year-old who rode his bike into a mailbox, broke his leg, and then developed a blood clot in his leg. His homecoming is exciting and is captured in a newspaper photo. In the foreground is a “welcome home, Danny” sign next to a shiny, new bicycle. A few days later, the article is on the roadrunner bulletin board with a red arrow pointing at one of the ecstatic faces in the crowd. It is Stargirl, of course. Soon after the homecoming, the family begins to wonder who bought the bike. When they realize that none of them bought the bike, the fallout begins and the bike ends up with the trash one night. By the time the garbage collectors come in the morning, the bike is gone. Instead of a bike, Danny gets a BB gun. The students at Mica High know who gave Danny the bike.
These three events are noted but do not particularly affect Stargirl’s reputation; however, cheerleading and basketball are ahead.
(The entire section is 852 words.)
Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 Summary
Hot Seat’s Stargirl episode is here. Students run the entire show, though there is a faculty advisor. The goal of it all is entertainment, and generally after the show is taped everyone—jury, guest, host, crew—mingles in a friendly and comfortable way. After the taping, the show is edited and broadcast later that night. More than half the student body watches the show, and it regularly gets higher ratings than any sitcom on TV. Tonight the numbers will probably be more like ninety percent, but secretly Leo wishes no one would watch.
The set is ready, and the jury enters. Almost always the jury is lighthearted and ready to have fun, but today they march in grimly—all twelve of them, including Hillari Kimble. Stargirl, on the other hand, is performing her usual kinds of antics, apparently unaware of the charged atmosphere around her. Kevin and “the victim” (the fond nickname the show has for each guest) put on their clip-on microphones in preparation for the interview, and Leo takes his place in the control booth, still with a sinking feeling about this interview. Suddenly Stargirl raises Cinnamon’s little rat paw and waves it at the control room, telling her furry friend to say hello to Leo. He is stunned that she even knows his name.
The jury (whose job it is to ask the embarrassing or provocative questions, not to be mean-spirited) takes its place, and the show begins. Stargirl asks if Kevin wants to hold Cinnamon, who promptly burrows into Kevin’s shirt. Ignoring the host’s opening question, Stargirl’s eyes widen and she appears frozen in some kind of pain. Finally Leo realizes she is taking the name of the show literally and pretending to be sitting on a true hot seat. With an incredible sense of dramatic timing, Stargirl lets the “heat” radiate down her arms and legs and out her fingers and toes. She eventually emits a scream and jumps to her feet, fanning imaginary smoke from her rear end.
Kevin realizes what Stargirl is doing and nearly falls over laughing. The rat is on the loose, the cameras are trying to keep up, and Stargirl continues her convincing charade. It is the best Hot Seat episode ever, but no one except those present will ever see it.
The uproar is over, and a few minutes later the show begins with a question about her name. Kevin asks a lighthearted question...
(The entire section is 788 words.)
Chapter 14 and Chapter 15 Summary
Leo admits what happened next is a bit blurry in his recollection. The Hot Seat episode did not air, but by the next day almost every student knows what had happened. Tension mounts as the students wait to see how Stargirl will react. On every holiday so far this year, she gave each student in her homeroom a special treat. The students wonder if she would do so today, on Valentine’s Day. Stargirl gives each student in her homeroom a candy heart that morning.
The first district playoff game is tonight, and the “Mica mob” will settle for nothing less than a state championship. The cheerleaders are as vocal as the crowd is and cheer only for the Electrons, Stargirl included. Leo is relieved, but not for long.
For the first time this year, the Electrons are losing. The reason is not hard to fathom: his name is Ron Kovac. The Sun Valley superstar is six feet eight inches tall, and he averages thirty points a game; his team is ahead by nineteen points. Suddenly there is a scramble for the ball and Kovac is on the floor, writing in pain, and one foot is clearly not right. Coaches, trainers, and players all rush to the injured player, but the first one to arrive is Stargirl.
As they work on Kovac’s broken ankle, Stargirl holds his head in her lap and comforts him in his pain. When the ambulance takes the injured player out the door, everyone claps. Leo claps for the right reasons but suspects others in the crowd are cheering the loss of the superstar. Without Kovac, Sun Valley is demoralized and Mica High wins easily.
Two nights later, the season is over. Glendale has five gigantic players and the outcome is inevitable. The crowd is devastated, and the state championship they were sure would be theirs is about to be taken away from them. The reactions are dramatic: tears, shouting, anger, and frustration. But Stargirl is calm and is determined. She turns her back to the game and cheers with an intensity that borders on ferociousness...until her face turns bloody.
Leo screams out a loud “NOOOOOO!” Her face is red, he realizes, but it is not blood. Someone has thrown a tomato at Stargirl, and some of the crowd cheers and laughs. As Stargirl stands staring in disbelief, some even applaud.
The next morning Leo discovers a card in a notebook he has not opened in several weeks—since about Valentine’s Day. It looks like...
(The entire section is 717 words.)
Chapter 16 and Chapter 17 Summary
Monday at lunch, Leo stays seated when he sees Stargirl approaching his table, though Kevin’s eyes widen in disbelief. It seems to Leo as if the entire universe is standing still for this moment. She says, “You’re welcome,” then she stands waiting for a response. Leo turns with some trepidation, for he knows this is a moment that will change everything for him. He looks into her eyes and thanks her for the card. Stargirl beams her brightest smile and walks away. Kevin concludes that Stargirl is in love; Leo, of course, denies it.
The rest of the day is difficult for Leo; he feels as if he has been hit—hard. After school he makes his way to Stargirl’s homeroom, not knowing what he will do there but knowing he must go. He overhears a group of girls gossiping about Stargirl’s being kicked off the cheerleading squad. When they notice him, they call to him in unison: “Starboy!” They laugh. Leo waves; he is secretly thrilled.
That evening Leo heads to her house, a quite ordinary house for someone as extraordinary as Stargirl. It is dark when he arrives, and he moons around hoping to see her yet afraid she will appear. Suddenly the front door opens and Leo ducks behind the car in the driveway. After a few moments, Stargirl asks if he remembers the day he followed her into the desert. Leo hesitates then answers that he does.
She asks why he turned and left, but Leo has no real answer. He looks down to see Cinnamon burrowing into his shoelaces. The conversation continues, and Leo admits he thinks Stargirl is cute but is not so sure about Cinnamon. Stargirl encourages Leo to tickle him behind the ears, and Leo does so. Suddenly the rat jumps to Leo’s shoulder and Leo yelps. Stargirl laughs and says Cinnamon loves ears. Just as Leo is getting used to the rodent snuffling near his ear, Stargirl announces they have to go in. Because Cinnamon is not leaving of his own accord, Leo places him on the ground and he scampers under the car to Stargirl. They wish each other a good night, but Leo wishes he did not have to leave.
Two weeks earlier, Leo discovered Stargirl knew his name; today he is “loopy with love.” Kevin recognizes it immediately, but at lunch Leo becomes self-conscious about his giddiness and hides out for the entire period.
After school Stargirl and Leo meet, though there was no conscious...
(The entire section is 713 words.)
Chapter 18 and Chapter 19 Summary
In the days that follow, Leo feels as if he is alone in the universe—alone except for Stargirl. He senses her presence everywhere. One day, though, he discovers they are literally alone. As they walk side by side through the halls at school, no one speaks to them, looks at them, nods at them, smiles at them, or notices them in any way. Amid the crowd around them, they remain literally untouched.
At lunch, Leo mentions his observation to Kevin—who stares intently at his sandwich. He is only teasing, but Leo asks Kevin what is going on with everyone. Kevin regrets having to tell his friend that he is not the one being shunned. As Leo looks around, he realizes that only Dori Dilson and another ninth grader are sitting at Stargirl’s once-full table. Kevin explains she is being given the silent treatment because of the “basketball stuff.”
Leo protests that only a few short weeks ago everyone was cheering for Stargirl at the oratorical contest, and only one person threw a tomato. But, says Kevin, “a thousand wanted to.” They all blame her for the ruin of their undefeated season. Leo protests that she is simply a cheerleader, and all the nice things she does for people should count for something—though obviously they do not. In the following days, Leo is intensely aware of their aloneness in a crowd and the smirks of Hillari Kimble, but Stargirl does not seem to notice.
Archie explains the Amish concept of shunning to Leo, who feels as if he does not exist within the walls of MAHS—at least not when he is with Stargirl. “Poor dolphin. Caught in a tuna net,” says Archie. While he ponders Barney’s Paleocene skull, Leo asks Archie what he should do.
Archie’s suggestion to stay away from her is not particularly helpful, and Leo asks him if he believes in enchanted places; the scientist says indeed he does. The real question Leo wants to ask finally comes out: “Why can’t she be...like everybody else?” Leo knows this is not really what he wants, and Archie knows it, too. Archie tries to explain that Stargirl is more in touch with herself and the world around her than the rest of us are, and his words
seemed not to enter through my ears but to settle on my skin, there to burrow like tiny eggs awaiting the rain of my maturity, when they would hatch and I at last would...
(The entire section is 495 words.)
Chapter 20 and Chapter 21 Summary
Several times a week, the latest basketball scores are posted on the roadrunner board in the courtyard as teams progress toward the state championship game. Glendale’s scores are always a source of bitterness to Mica High students as their rival continues to win. Another winner is Stargirl. She won the district oratorical contest and is going to compete in Phoenix at the state tournament on the third Friday in April. When the announcement is made in school, Leo wants to cheer but does not. Some actually boo.
In preparation for the competition, Stargirl practices alone in the desert and in front of Leo and Cinnamon. Her speech is constantly changing as she thinks of new things to say. In fact, it is less like a speech than a natural outpouring of her love for the world around her. The couple also bikes and walks, and Stargirl teaches Leo how to enjoy simple things and to laugh. She is always seeing things Leo does not until she shows him. He sees them but needs her to show him why they matter. The color of a door, an old man wearing an American flag lapel pin, bugs on the ground, and more.
Soon Leo is seeing things, too, and it becomes a contest. Leo shares that he wants to be a TV director; Stargirl wants to be a silver-lunch-truck driver because she wants to make people happy. One day she buys a small potted violet for someone who has a loved one in the hospital and decorates it with a bit of lavender ribbon. When Leo asks why she never signs her name to these gifts, she is surprised at the thought. Getting recognition is not something she cares about. Suddenly Leo realizes the porcupine tie he received so many years ago came from her and asks where she found it. Stargirl smiles and tells him her mother made it.
Each weekend and some evenings, they deliver all kinds of things around town. The cards are drawn with simple stick figures but are clearly heartfelt. Leo finally gets Stargirl to tell him how she seems to know everything going on in strangers’ lives. She reads the newspaper: the obituaries, the hospital admissions, the birth and wedding announcements, the police notices, and the calendar of upcoming events. What she really loves, though, are the “fillers”—the items too short for articles but which give interesting tidbits about all kinds of people. Stargirl also listens to the gossip at the beauty salon and reads...
(The entire section is 655 words.)
Chapter 22 and Chapter 23 Summary
Although Leo expects Stargirl’s parents to be throwbacks from the 1960s hippie movement, he finds them to be quite ordinary. Mrs. Caraway is sewing a costume in shorts and a tank top, and Mr. Caraway is on a stepladder painting the outside windowsills on their house. The house contains some eclectic items, but there is nothing that reflects Stargirl’s quirkiness. The same is true for her bedroom, which is ordinary in every way. Leo looks puzzled and Stargirl enjoys his consternation, guessing what he expected to find. She explains she has an office in a secret location, and Leo surmises that Archie knows where it is. Stargirl simply smiles.
Leo does notice two unusual items in the room. One is a wooden bowl containing strands of Stargirl’s hair. She explains that she sets it out every spring to help the birds build their nests. The second item appears to be a small wooden toy wagon that looks very old. In it is a pile of small stones. When Leo asks her about them, Stargirl tells him this is her happy wagon. There are twenty little rocks, and each time she is happy she places one of them in the wagon; when she is sad she takes one out. Leo asks how many pebbles have been in the wagon at any one time, and Stargirl smiles and tells him right now it has as many rocks as it has ever had at one time—seventeen. She reveals that at her lowest, it was down to only three stones; Leo is surprised that she ever has felt that low.
Dinner is fine, and Leo discovers Stargirl is a vegetarian. After a dinner of tofu meatloaf for her and real meatloaf for the rest, the two of them sit on the front porch. Stargirl has her camera, and they watch a five-year-old boy from across the street as he plays with some friends. She explains that his name is Peter and she is preparing his biography. It is a surprising concept to Leo, but Stargirl thinks everyone should have some kind of documentation about their lives for the years they are not likely to remember. One day many years from now, she is convinced that a biography of those early years would be an invaluable treasure, so she is doing that for Peter.
Leo agrees that he can barely remember those years of his life, but he thinks it is something a parent should do. Stargirl says she just catches him when she can, at unexpected moments his parents would not capture. An incredulous Leo asks if she is a saint but immediately regrets it when...
(The entire section is 799 words.)
Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 Summary
Several days after the kiss, Leo hears whispers of “roadrunner” everywhere he goes. During Spanish class, he finally has an opportunity to look out the window to see if he can catch at least a glimpse of what might be there. What he sees is a white sheet draped across the entire board. On it is a gigantic red heart with the words “STARGIRL LOVES LEO” written in the middle of it. Leo’s first impulse is to take the Spanish teacher to the window to prove that she really loves him. His next reaction is to wish he could tear the sign down.
Suddenly Hillari Kimble’s demand that Stargirl not sing “Happy Birthday” to her makes some sense to Leo. He is mortified. Leo is glad that he is not in the habit of sitting with Stargirl at lunch, and he attempts to avoid her gaze. His head turns of its own volition, though, and there she is—waving at him and blowing him kisses. Leo drags Kevin with him out of the lunchroom.
Mercifully, someone tears the sign down, and after school Leo does what he can to avoid her. She runs after him, shouting his name, but he keeps walking. Stargirl, with a sparkle in her eyes, asks if he saw the sign. When he is silent, she teases with Cinnamon that Leo must be shy and places the rat on Leo’s shoulder. Leo swipes him from his shoulder, sending Cinnamon flying. Stargirl is “dumbstruck.” Leo storms off and just keeps walking.
The next day the full force of the shunning descends on Leo. He is invisible. In the hallways and in the classrooms, the only one who will talk to him is Kevin. When Leo asks how long this is going to go on, Kevin says he is unsure. When Leo asks what he ever did to deserve such treatment, Kevin says, “You know what you did.” Leo does know what he did. His crime is being connected to someone who is unpopular.
Leo wants to be with Stargirl but he also wants his friends; since he does not know how to make this happen, he runs and he hides in an attempt to avoid the entire situation. She seeks him out one day in the TV studio and asks if they are breaking up already. He tells her, “Something’s gotta change.” Stargirl teases him for a moment, but then she sees he is quite serious and lets him tell her his frustrations. While she is content to have only the people that really matter to her talk to her, Leo is not.
He asks her if she...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
Chapter 26 and Chapter 27 Summary
In the cafeteria, Dori Dilson is at her usual table, but Stargirl is nowhere to be found. She is not in the courtyard or in the hallways, either. As Leo walks out of the cafeteria, he hears her voice, but when he turns it does not appear to be her. This girl is wearing sandals and jeans, red lipstick and fingernails, and lots of jewelry. It takes Leo a few moments to realize this girl is, indeed, Stargirl. When he whispers her name, she bats her eyes at him and remarks that Stargirl is such a ridiculous name. She says her name is Susan:
And just like that, Stargirl was gone, replaced by Susan. Susan Julia Caraway. The girl she might have been all along.
Leo cannot stop staring at the transformation: no sunflower bag, no rat, no ukulele, nothing goofy, nothing different to be found on her anywhere. Stargirl looks extraordinarily ordinary, and Leo cannot resist grabbing her and giving her a squeeze in front of everyone. He has never been so proud.
From then on, there is nothing but affection and gossip and fun between them—just like a normal couple. Dori Dilson does not sit at her usual table, now that Susan sits with Kevin and Leo, but Leo does not mind. He is no longer Mr. Stargirl; instead, he is proud to be attached to Susan Caraway. They no longer “card” strangers, deliver violets, or peruse bulletin boards for interesting tidbits of information.
When they share a pizza and Leo remarks that no one he knows eats anchovies, she picks them off her half saying, “I don’t want to be like nobody.” She chooses her clothes not for fashion but for the prominence of the designer labels, and she is constantly quizzing Leo about whether their imaginary friend “Evelyn Everybody” would do such-and-such a thing. Susan tries to be what every teenage girl is, but it is not working.
Leo fails to notice it; but Susan sees that the shunning continues, that they still do not like her. Leo is hopeful that after this weekend and the state basketball championship has been decided, she will be forgiven. When they do their homework together at her house that night, he sees only two stones in Susan’s happy wagon. The next morning, Susan is sitting in the courtyard with an oversized backscratcher in her hand and a sign around her neck saying, “TALK TO ME AND I’LL SCRATCH YOUR BACK.” There are no takers, and Leo avoids...
(The entire section is 900 words.)
Chapter 28 and Chapter 29 Summary
Mr. and Mrs. Caraway meet them at the hotel, and the five of them have lunch before Susan boards a bus to take contestants to a local high school. The morning’s contestants have finished, and it is time for the second group to present their speeches. Ten finalists will be chosen to continue the competition this evening. To no one’s surprise, Susan makes the cut for the finals. What is surprising is that the speech she gives is not the speech she had been rehearsing so diligently for weeks.
Her speech, entitled “I Might Have Heard a Moa,” was full of enchanted and mystical elements woven together in a lyrical and almost magical way. After the congratulations are given, Leo asks Susan if she had been practicing a second speech without telling anyone. With a smile, Susan says she simply opened her mouth and there it was. Leo is incredulous and asks what she is going to say tonight at the finals. Her answer is simple: “Who knows?”
After dinner, Susan changes into an outfit her mother made her, and she is off on the bus once again. Seven boys and two girls on the stage look frightened—Susan is comfortable and relaxed. Speaker after speaker nervously approaches the microphone and presents a prepared oration. When Susan’s name is called, she bounces to the microphone and immediately engages with the audience. In fact, she is so engaging that the audience does not realize for several minutes that she is actually presenting her speech. The crowd grows silent, and Susan finishes with a dramatic question as she leans toward the audience and whispers, “Can you hear it?” The silence intensifies as she takes her seat, and suddenly the room erupts with applause. Leo bursts into tears, and the cheering, whistling, and shouting of fifteen hundred people sounds much the same as a crowd at a championship basketball game.
The silver plate is shiny and beautiful, and Susan hardly lets it out of her hands. Crowds gather around her, television cameras interview her, and everyone wants to be her or be connected to her. Back at the hotel, everyone seems to know there is a star in their midst. Leo and Susan are welcomed into the nightclub, where they dance and see Susan’s face on the television screen. The next morning, she is on the front page of the paper; Leo imagines everyone back home reading about Susan’s stunning performance....
(The entire section is 592 words.)
Chapter 30 and Chapter 31 Summary
Susan sits in stunned silence until her parents arrive to take her home. As she gets out of the car, her trophy plate falls to the asphalt. Susan does not stop to pick it up. Her father retrieves the plate and hands it to Leo with a “strange smile.” Leo and Susan do not see each other all weekend. On Monday, Stargirl is back.
At lunch she gives every student a cookie, including Hillari Kimble, who takes off her shoe and smashes the cookie on the table. Stargirl plays her ukulele with Cinnamon on her shoulder, and Leo does his best to avoid looking at her. He is angry and does not want to encourage Susan’s transformation back into Stargirl. Dori Dilson is the only one who stands and claps at the end of the performance. As everyone files out of the cafeteria, cookies are littered about the room.
As they walk home after school, Leo asks her if she has given up on being “popular and normal.” Stargirl answers with a firm yes, and Leo is disgusted. She kisses Leo sadly on the cheek and says she knows he will not ask her to Ocotillo Ball, and that is okay with her. As she walks away, she gives him the same smile she gives to other needy souls. In that moment, Leo hates her.
Kevin calls later that night, as if on cue, to ask whom Leo is taking to the Ball. Leo’s hesitancy to say that he is going to ask Stargirl tells Kevin something new is happening with his friend; however, Leo is in no mood to talk.
The next morning a new sign is on the roadrunner—a sign-up sheet for a new musical group called the Ukee Dooks. No experience is necessary, and there are spots on the list for forty participants. Not surprisingly, the sheet is full by the end of the day; Mickey Mouse, Wayne Parr, and the principal of the school, among other such celebrities, all apparently want to be part of this new group.
After school Kevin and Leo gravitate to the television studio and the discussion turns to Stargirl. Kevin makes several comments that tell Leo that Stargirl is now a target for gossip and ridicule even for his friend, now that Leo no longer defends her.
Everyone derides Stargirl, and Leo hears it all. He wonders if the commentary has intensified or if he is simply listening better. It does seem as if they hate her more now than they did before she tried to be one of them. One day after school, Leo looks out the window and sees the Ukee Dooks...
(The entire section is 990 words.)
Chapter 32, Chapter 33, and Epilogue Summary
Fifteen years have passed. Leo tells of his reactions shortly after the Ocotillo Ball. He ventures to her house but finds it empty except for a For Sale sign in the yard. He goes to visit Archie, who appears to have been expecting him. Leo asks, “Where?” and Archie answers, “Midwest. Minnesota.”
Leo wonders if he will ever see her again, if she was even real. Archie tells him, “Star people are rare. You’ll be lucky to meet another.” He goes on to explain that sometimes a person comes along who is more in touch with who they really are than the rest of us are. Leo is confused and Archie just smiles. He tells Leo he is lucky because she loved him enough to try to be something she could never really be. Though Leo says he understands, Archie knows he does not but one day he will.
Leo continues to be part of the Loyal Order of the Stone Bone, and they never speak of Stargirl again until the next summer. Archie invites Leo to come over and shows him Stargirl’s office in the tool shed behind his house. It looks just like Leo thought it would, full of ribbons and calendars and phone books and file folders and bits of other interesting things. Archie shows him a scrapbook with Peter’s name on it, and Archie explains he is to wait five years before he delivers it. Leo spies a file folder labeled “Borlock” and opens it.
It contains a myriad of information about him, including his likes and dislikes. Leo is stunned into silence. He also sees files for everyone else she knew, including Hillari Kimble and Wayne Parr. He remarks that she was like a spy. Archie smiles and says, “A lovely treason, hm?” Leo is speechless.
Leo still visits Archie during his college years, though he eventually moves east to pursue his career as a set designer—something he realizes now was born in him the day Stargirl first took him to her enchanted place. Archie looks more and more like the ancient Mr. Saguaro. On Leo’s last visit, Archie hands him the car keys and deposits himself, a pail, and a small paper bag in the front seat.
They discuss Stargirl, but Leo seems no closer to understanding her now than he ever had. They drive to the foothills and Archie directs Leo to stop near an outcropping of rocks not far from the road. He takes a pick from his pail and finds a good spot. After a bit of digging, Archie pulls...
(The entire section is 810 words.)