Jerry Spinelli, , read by John Ritter. . Listening Library, $25 (4 hrs., 25 mins., $25 ISBN p) ISBN 9780739338971
Ritter, in the sort of dynamic, focused performance that makes him a versatile actor, effortlessly walks the halls of Mica Area High School as 16-year-old Leo Borlock, a boy coming to grips with first love and the pressures of conformity. Junior year takes a most unusual track for Leo, a proud-to-be-ordinary kid, as well as most of the student body, when a new sophomore named Stargirl arrives on the scene. With her odd clothes, pet rat named Cinnamon and penchant for playing the ukulele during lunch, free spirit Stargirl turns the school on its ear. But before Leo really knows it's happening, Stargirl steals his heart, a development that eventually puts him at odds with just about everyone. As his love for Stargirl grows, so does his concern that they are an oddity in the world; he finds himself facing a difficult choice between society and his girlfriend. With a mesmerizing reading rhythm peppered with spirited and heartfelt dialogue, Ritter fully captures the emotional current of Spinelli's text. He relates the humorous details, clique-related dramas and intense heartbreak of high school life with a knowing tone that young listeners will likely embrace. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 09/10/2001