by Jerry Spinelli
Analysis: Writing Style
Informally Poetic and Suspenseful
Informally poetic probably sounds a little strange, but bear with us.
First, let's have a chat about all that pesky dialogue in the novel. This is a book that's very much about personal relationships, so it figures that all these characters would do a whole lot of talking. And since we're dealing with teenagers here, that talking happens in the everyday, informal lingo and style of your typical American youngster:
"Today. After school. Just now!" (16.17-18)
You don't always speak in complete sentences, do you? We didn't think so. And neither do the kids over at Mica High. If they did, their dialogue would sound a lot stuffier and a lot less realistic than it does. It's all about bringing these genuine characters to life.
Of course if the whole novel were written in snappy, casual conversations, we'd grow tired of it pretty quickly, right? Enter the poetic half of the equation. Our narrator Leo tells us his deepest, most profound thoughts—about Stargirl, about the universe, about life—and when he does so, the poetry of the prose truly shines. He's a smart guy, our Leo, and he's no stranger to a beautiful simile or a meaningful metaphor:
"I was floating. I floated up the white light that washed my sheets and slept on the moon. In school I was a yellow balloon, smiling and lazy, floating above the classrooms. I felt a faint tug on my string. Far below, Kevin was calling, 'You're in love, dude!' I merely smiled and rolled over and drifted dreamily out a window" (17.1).
This metaphor has a lot going on in it. Leo does a great job of trying to explain how he feels like when he is falling in love. He feels light, like he is floating above everything else in the world. He drifts dreamily; he doesn't have any worries. Leo uses light and sunny colors like white and yellow to express the light and sunny emotions that he is feeling. It's like he is completely disconnected from anything that limits or grounds him, and he is totally enjoying the ride that this love will take him on. Bottom line? Dude's a balloon.
Stargirl Leaves Us Hanging on Hooks
Oh, and one more thing. The style section wouldn't be complete without a bit on those end-of-chapter hooks Spinelli is so fond of using. At the end of each chapter, you are just about to put the book down and then BAM, you have to keep reading. Just take a look at the end of Chapter 25, and you'll see what we mean:
"Two days later Stargirl vanished."
Wait. What? Now, how can you stop reading there, right? You simply have to turn the page to see what the deal is. It's one of Spinelli's tricky moves that make this sweet love story a page-turner, too.