Title: The Outsiders
Author: S. E. Hinton
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1967
Genre(s): Fiction, Young adult
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.
Welcome to the first book I’ll be reading in my Young Adult Literature class this semester. You guys do not understand how excited I am to finally take this class. Literally all of our assignments are things I already do for fun. We read YA novels on a list and write book reviews of them, we read two additional YA novels and present about them to the class, and for extra credit we can keep a reading journal with our thoughts on everything we’re reading. HOW GREAT DOES THAT SOUND!? I love being an English major.
Ponyboy is a fourteen-year-old who lives with his brothers, Darry and Soda. They live on the East Side, marking them as greasers. They’re the kids who are in the middle-class, the hoodrats and delinquents who wear blue jeans and leather jackets. Those who live on the West Side are known as the socials (or socs for short); they have money, good looks, nice cars, and drunken parties. The greasers and socs are constantly at war. One night, somebody takes things too far, and after that, nothing is the same anymore.
This is a classic and I’ve been dying to read it for years. I’m not saying I regret it, but it’s certainly not what I was expecting. The best thing about the novel was how unpredictable it was. The synopsis was vague, so I didn’t know what to expect going into it. Once I started, I had no idea how each chapter would progress. I liked not knowing; it made the story more interesting than it actually was. The plot was certainly unique, but it just want my cup of tea.
Reading a book in which you dislike the narrator is almost always a bad time. The story is told in first-person by Ponyboy; I was not a fan of him. He seemed whiny and kind of dim. Yes, I know, he’s only 14 and he’s a poor little boy, but something about him just made me dislike him. I enjoyed his character arc, though; you can clearly see his progress, how he comes of age and, by the end of the novel, kind of reaches a state of depression or PTSD. I also loved how his coming-of-age moment was paired with a socs. My favorite character of the novel was Johnny. He was a small, quiet kid who got along with everybody and had a troubled home life. He was so innocent and endearing and I wanted to hug him. I also liked Darry, just because he was different and at 20 years old he literally gave up everything for his brothers. Strange, interesting characters, that’s for sure. They were very developed.
S. E. Hinton wrote this book while she was fifteen and sixteen years old. To me, that is an incredible feat, especially with it becoming such a classic staple of teenage literature. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing, though. I know the voice of the novel is 14 years old, so she had to write it the way Ponyboy would, but it just killed me. It seemed so amateur and dull and I wasn’t a fan. I understand, but I don’t like it.
Even though this novel didn’t meet my expectations, I’m glad I read it. Another classic added to my list. My reading list for this YA class looks fantastic, so stay tuned for more required literature! Not much time for my own picks…
“We’re always going and going and going, and never asking where.”
“Maybe people are younger when they are asleep.”