Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

Summary: Ponyboy can count on his brothers. And on his friends. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up "greasers" like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect--until the night someone takes things too far. (Summary from back of the book and image from Powells.com)

My Review: I cannot believe I didn't read this while in school. How I escaped my teen years without reading this book is beyond me. I did, however, pick it up as an adult. I consumed it. It's short (only 180 pages) and despite having dated vernacular, dated fads and styles, it hits home. You can't help but feel for Ponyboy and his brothers. No one should have their parents taken from them so young. S.E. Hinton so easily throws the reader into understanding why a group of boys would become family to a teen. And at first, you can't help but side completely with the greasers. That is, until the end of the book when you realize the opposite perspective. S.E. Hinton crafts this book so well, you don't even realize you're seeing the Socs side until the end.

I love how this book transcends generations, speaks to the young, and brings to light issues that all teens see and feel but cannot seem to talk about. After reading this book with my 7th and 8th graders you'd be amazed at the discussions my students are able to have when before they could hardly speak to one another. Any book that can attack prejudice and stereotypes, forcing teens to change their thinking, is a powerful book.

What I do find sad is that despite time, this book's issues are still around. It's sad that we, as a society, haven't moved past the same struggles that the kids 50 years ago struggled with. It's great that there is literature out there that can move people to break barriers and create dialogue, but it's sad that despite that progress, nothing has changed. Maybe it's because we all seem to need to learn the hard way about some things.

If you haven't read this book, please pick up a copy. It's a quick read and you won't be sorry.

Rating: 5 Stars--Everyone should read this book at some point in life.

In a phrase: A timeless book about universal struggle.

2 comments:

alastaircookie said...

I've been wanting to read this book for ages, but I keep putting it off. This review is exactly the incentive I need to finally get into it- so thank you! ;D

Madisen said...

Read this for 7th grade year, and is ultimately one of my favorite books of all time! Kids who weren't into reading at all loved this book (and they were kind of forced to read it ;D) and I thought it was great to introduce this amazing piece of writing to everyone.

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