Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton
Published 1967

My 11-year old and I read this for fun several weeks ago, after a couple of bloggers, like Hamlette @ Edge of the Precipice, suggested this as a great classic. I had never read it, but when I was 13-years old, this movie was released, and I did see it; of course, all I cared about was Matt Dillion and Thomas C. Howell, and regretfully, I remembered nothing more from the film. 

So the plot was completely new to me. And I must admit, I was really impressed by this short, powerful, emotional read. The author, S.E. Hinton, is a 16-year old girl, although she assigned narration to a  teenage male voice, the main character, Pony Boy (played by Thomas C. Howell in the film). 

I am not going to reveal the plot, but I am going to share that it is rather a sad story, though with a hopeful conclusion. It has somewhat of a West Side Story feel to it, without the major love story. The focus is rather on the prejudices towards those in different social classes and the conflict it brings between opposing groups.  

The story contains graphic violence and a lot of smoking. I think I remember profanity, but not the worst kind. The most difficult truth in the story, for me, was the mistreatment of some of the characters by their parents. This is a very real circumstance that breaks my heart, but it helps the reader to sympathize with the characters that end up in difficult situations and are forced to make desperate life decisions. 

The Outsiders, 1983

Should You Read This?

Well, if you have not already -- as it seems so many readers have and I am just late to the party -- then, yes. Every one can relate to this story. It is short, so you do not have to commit much time to it. It is not complex, as the young narrator speaks plainly. It is quick-paced, emotional, shocking, and sad. I would also suggest that you watch the film soon after you finish the book. It will be worth it. If you like powerful stories that stay with you for a long time after, then this is that book.

15 comments:

  1. This and "That Was Then, This is Now" were amazing to me in eighth and ninth grade. I've read them over and over again since then -- and that was 20 years ago. The characters themselves, the story...they're all so memorable.

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    1. I just ordered That Was Then... from the library. I'll check it out.

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    2. I hope you enjoy it. Ponyboy is a secondary character in it as well.

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    3. I read That Was Then in high school and I think I liked it even better than the Outsiders.

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  2. I remember really enjoying this book as a teen and after seeing the movie lately, it's still a powerful story for me. I, too, should do a re-read of it to see how I react to the written form as an adult. Like Stephen, I also loved That Was Then, This Is Now". Two blasts from the past! ;-)

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    1. That's so funny...that so many people had read The Outsiders, and I didn't even know it was a book! I totally live under a rock. Anyway, I ordered that other book from the library, and I'm sure my son will want to read that with me, too.

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  3. Oh, how I love this book :-) But you knew that already.

    I read That was Then, This is Now shortly after reading this for the first time, around age 14, and found it disappointing, though I should revisit it now and see if I like it better.

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    1. Maybe it was TOO soon, and you weren't fully recovered from The Outsiders, yet. It could happen.

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  4. I read the Outsiders on the second to last day of my 7th grade year. I had to return the book the next day, so I read through it in one sitting. I really liked it at the time. For the next years in junior and high school, I read all of Hinton's books.

    Looking back now, I see why they books appealed to me then because the boys were rebellious and cool and in my imagination, good-looking. Now I worry that they might glamorize counter culture or rebellion. At least they had that affect on me back then.

    Of course I haven't read them in many years.

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    1. I definitely see that being an attraction to a young person, but this one had a sobering ending that I think even a young person would desire. Then again, I'm speaking from an adult perspective....I don't know how I would have felt had I read it in jr. high. (I was quite rebellious myself, already!)

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    2. I was embarrassing back then, but I suppose no worse than other kids my age. The Outsiders definitely glammed up gangs and smoking for me. I started smoking then. (I have since quit. :)

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    3. Oh, no! That smoking was horrible. I think the 60s were terrible about promoting cigarettes. Everyone was doing it. I tried it in my 20s, in the 90s, but it didn't last very long b/c it was so yucky. Being the story was written in the 60s, I wonder if the author saw it as a typical rebellious behavior of young people. Well, I'm glad you quit, too.

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  5. I haven't read The Outsiders, and I'm not sure why not, since it's been around for years, and it's fascinating to think the author was a teenage girl. I'll get my mindset ready for a few tears, if I ever do pick it up :)

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    1. Having just read The Catcher in the Rye, I think you will like to pull this one apart, too. You should think about reading it. It's a quick, easy read, with some heavy, emotional themes.

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