The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: Ponyboy Curtis is a Greaser, a member of a gang, an enemy of the Socs (short for Socials). I kind of wish I’d read this back in middle school before I’d encountered a hundred other stories just like it. The rival social groups, the brawling that goes too far, and even the killing off of characters rather than having them face the difficult (and potentially interesting) consequences of their actions – nothing came as a surprise. It’s even told from the point of view of the character who is unusually smart and bookish, a stereotype which detracts a bit from the realism for me. I understand why this shortcut is so often taken by authors (who are often smart and bookish) to elicit sympathy from the reader (who is also often smart and bookish), but I would have rather heard from Soda or even Two-Bit, Greasers who were more participants than observers. The teenager narrative voice is realistic, which is kind of to be expected considering how much has been made of the fact that the author was only 16 when she wrote it. I’m not saying this is a bad book – far from it. It’s certainly something I would recommend to young adults. I just felt like I’d read it before, that’s all.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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