I get the hype. This book was excellent. It's not technically sci-fi or fantasy, but I felt compelled to read it because of the press it has received, as well as the success of the sequel and journal.
I connected to this book on a personal level for many reasons; I've always been strangely drawn to Arizona, and I see a very strong part of myself in both Stargirl and in Leo. I think the simultaneous desire to fit in and yet stand out—or better yet, stand out and be loved for it—surpasses middle school or high school culture. We can all identify with that, which made it a beautiful read for me as an adult. Hardly any books about high school would find their way onto my bookshelf at this particular time, namely because you could not pay me enough to be a teenager again (don't get me wrong, I loved it. And I would not wish it on anybody all the same breath. Maybe I'll read some trashy teen lit when my daughter is *eeks* in high school).
Anyway, far from being just a cathartic novel about being different, this novel has something truly unique to it, something that captured my heart as easily as Stargirl captured Mica High School. It helps that it is beautifully written. It helps that the characters are, for the most part, fresh and real (with the slight exception of the wizened old man who sits on his porch smoking a pipe). I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever been to high school, who has/had a child in high school, or who wishes they could forget about high school. Basically, anyone. It's a fast read and worth the poetic mental trip to the warm, Arizona desert.