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Louise's Letter to Jerry Spinelli
By Louise M. Rea
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Junior 7-9
Year: 2002 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Jerry Spinelli,

Stargirl was a book all about believing. It was about being different, and being yourself. Stargirl was a book that helped me understand myself, but most of all helped me understand what I could be. When I was reading Stargirl, I felt so many emotions it was hard to keep them straight. I felt like I could do anything, and be anyone I wanted, as long as I didn't care what other people thought, and just acted like myself all along. I think that was the message that Stargirl wanted to get across ... that you can do anything if you never forget who you really are. This is a message so commonly forgotten by teenagers today. It seems like everywhere I look there are teenagers trying so hard to fit in and be alike; they all form this one personality. I just wish that the word normal didn't exist today, because, as in Stargirl, normality is what tears us apart.

Fitting in. It was my dream, as if everything would work out and be okay, if I fit in with those girls. You know, the ones that you either wanted to be, or hated completely. I guess it was this illusion that if I could just be one of them I wouldn't have problems, that I would just live this life free of bad feelings. I can almost laugh at myself now for thinking things like this. Maybe someone forgot to tell me that everyone has problems, and there isn't any one single thing that I can do, any way to act or dress that is going to get rid of my life of these negative feelings. I found out the hard way, when I changed who I was just so I could fit in. I used to think this was the right thing to do. To get rid of everything I liked and believed in just so I could be one of " them." But now I know. I know that standing up for what you believe in and being yourself is the single thing that you can really do if you want to be happy. It isn't changing yourself so maybe you will be happy. It's just being yourself. Maybe I wish I had realized that way before ... but I guess you learn from every mistake.

Stargirl was a remarkable story that couldn't have changed my mind more. It had the power to make me rethink everything I thought was right, and that is what means the most to me. After reading this book, I actually questioned my actions and myself, which is something a book had never done to me before. One word lurked in my mind after reading this. Normal. It is what had shaped years of my life ... being normal. This was the word that Stargirl tried so hard to beat, and even though she thought she just might have someone with her on this, in the end she was encouraged just to be normal. As strange as this sounds, after reading Stargirl I felt as if I had to beat normality too. As if it was my job to put an end to pretending. In Stargirl, during her phase of normality, she puts an end to something else. She ends being herself. She changes her whole life just for the sake of fitting in. My heart just sunk when I read all this. I agreed whole heartily with Dori about being untrue to herself. This was how I described what I was feeling inside. As if living this life of lies was being untrue to myself.

Stargirl overcame this. And I feel like so can I. So can everyone else, everyone who feels like they don't belong. They don't belong when they are classified as " normal." Being labeled as "weird" or "odd" or "different" is something I wouldn't mind accepting. In fact, it is what I wish was said so I could accept it. Maybe it's just too hard to break free from normality, or maybe I am not really accepting myself, and I just keep lying to myself. I guess it will take time to figure myself out, because it's going to take awhile to sort out all these lies. But I want to thank you, Jerry Spinelli, and Stargirl for helping me realize what a burden "normal" really is.

Louise M. Rea
8th Grade
Romig Middle School, Anchorage, Alaska
Teacher: Ms Lauri Packebush


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