Jessica Leatham's Reviews > The Outsiders

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
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Jun 09, 10

bookshelves: english-420

This story follows a gang of young men as they learn to make decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions. The protagonist, Ponyboy, struggles relating to his family and friends, reconciling his actions with his conscience, and handling the pressures of growing up. One night, he runs away from home with a friend and fellow gang member (Johnny), but after Johnny accidently kills a member of their rival gang, the two of them run away. During this time, they consider where their choices have led them and what kind of people they want to be. This story is told from the perspective of the members of a gang; therefore, the reader gets to experience an “insider’s” perspective. This book, published in 1967, was written by a female author who was not yet twenty years old. It seems interesting that a female teenager would be able to convincingly portray a gang of young men, yet this story has survived for 40 years. The Outsiders is a story of agency—of making choices and living with them. Johnny must face the consequences of the choices he has made in heat-of-the-moment situations, consequences that bring about important revelations, but cost him dearly. As a result of his decisions, other characters, including Dally and Ponyboy, make choices that set them on different paths than the ones they were traveling before. The reader sees how the consequences of the characters’ choices can be either redemptive or destructive. I like the story a lot, and I would recommend it to any audience. Although it is written about a street gang, this story speaks to everyone. It has the ability to teach about humanity and give the reader an opportunity to question his or her own decisions.
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