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It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset” – The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton

Initial Thoughts: I first read The Outsiders in my first year of high school. I remember moderately liking it, but unlike many people, it hadn’t made much of an impression upon me. Recently, I was assigned to re-read The Outsiders for a course on young adult literature.

Summary

The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.” — Goodreads

The Review

To fully appreciate S. E. Hinton’s novel, The Outsiders, it must be kept into consideration that this one of the first young adult novel’s to ever be published. Children’s literature was a solid genre with books such as Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and so on. But, The Outsiders paints a new perspective; life from the point of view of a young adult. This perspective had actually gotten The Outsiders banned on several occasions, and ranks as number 38 on he American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999. For those who have grown up reading young adult fiction, like me, probably do not fully grasp how revolutionary The Outsiders was.

With that said, this time around, I found that I had a similar view of this novel. I just couldn’t connect to these characters or their experiences. It could be because I did not grow up as a modern equivalent of either a “soc” (those who have had life handed to them on a silver platter), or as a “greaser” (those from the lower-middle class), or because I didn’t grow up in the fifties or sixties. I enjoyed reading The Outsiders from a historical perspective, sort of like how someone would view a museum exhibit.

The Outsiders focuses on a greaser named Ponyboy who witnesses a crime committed by one of his best friends. Ponyboy, despite all appearances is an intelligent young man who is quickly judged by others around him. To his gang, Ponyboy is a friend and a brother. To the socs, he is a fiend who must be stomped on. To society, he is a hood. Throughout the novel, Ponyboy struggles with finding his identity in a world that is quick to label him and his friends. This search for identity gives this novel its distinct young adult feel.

Another thing I remarked upon reading this novel the second time around, it felt hyper-realistic. S. E. Hinton has a way with dialogue and infusing dialect into the narrative without slowing down the reader. I could hear how Ponyboy would talk. I could imagine how the greasers would sound, or how the socs would sound. S. E. Hinton had written this novel when she was 15/16 years old, and it is remarkable how insightful she was about the workings of society even at her age.

I would recommend this novel to those who haven’t read it yet. The Outsiders is a quick read, and definitely worth reading for its status as a classic young adult novel along the lines of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. 

Final Rating:

A B

About the Book

Title: The Outsiders
Author: S. E. Hinton 
Year Published:1967
Pages: 192
Genres & Subjects: fiction, young adult, classics, realistic fiction

Until Next Time,

-Alice

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