Spinelli’s “Ondine” has been spirited away to a new place. But after everything that has transpired over the past year, the Stargirl the reader meets in this companion book appears somewhat chastened. This is a highly personal work, a kind of written exercise where Stargirl can safely address her crisis of identity and begin to learn how to fix it. Through this epistolary format, Stargirl no longer has the opportunity to disguise her various insecurities. She is vulnerable; and her fractured sense of self is only emphasized by the presence of those other characters she meets, who happen to be just as lost as she is, in one way or another.
Like Betty Lou, Charlie, Arnold and Alvina, Stargirl herself needs someone to push her into the right direction. This someone ironically takes the form of Perry, the local lothario. Perry constantly challenges her. His probing questions take her out of her comfort zone and force her to bring things to a head, emotions she’s reluctant to fully admit and address.
‘I guess I don’t know what I want [...] I was very uncomfortable [...] This was such a new script to me. I had no idea what my lines were.
Stargirl always was playing a part; and when things didn’t happen turn out the way they should, she would figuratively or literally run away. However, a change of clothes, silly jokes and music no longer have the same calming strength; her emptiness constantly threatens to take over. Yet with Perry’s aid, Stargirl learns how to adopt a “new beginning” through a Winter Solstice celebration.
As in Stargirl, this companion novel is heavily symbolic through its connections with the Undine/Ondine fairytale and the theme of new beginnings as related to the coming of the Winter Solstice. The connections are interesting. However, the story is not as complete as I had thought it would be. Stargirl’s letter is very much a journey—her journey of self-discovery. However, though the reader can say that her journey has reached an end, there is a sense that her real journey has only just begun. In that sense, Love, Stargirl reads as one giant prologue, with a few technical inconsistencies interspersed along the way. While both works do have their merits, I can’t entirely say that I fully enjoyed my experience reading them.