Spinelli is considered one of America's most important contemporary young adult writers, and, like his other books, Stargirl was well received by both critics and the public. Stargirl was a New York Times bestseller and received favorable reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the American Library Association, among others. Spinelli is a prolific writer, with twenty-six works published between his debut, Space Station Seventh Grade, in 1982, and his most recent novel, Smiles to Go, published in 2008. The struggle between the community and the individual is a frequent theme in Spinelli’s fiction; while Stargirl explored the issue in a high school setting, the Newbery Medal-winning Maniac Magee dealt with interracial relationships frowned on by a community, and the Newbery Honor-winning Wringer focused on bullying and peer pressure.
Spinelli is particularly well-known as an author who engages young adults with fresh, captivating writing and contemporary situations. As a result, Spinelli’s works, including Stargirl, are often recommended to reluctant young adult readers. Stargirl in particular seems to have had a powerful effect on young readers, as schools across the country have started “Stargirl Societies” dedicated to promoting the value of individuality so clearly expressed in the novel.