This book is chilling. It's the kind of book that, when you finish it, you don't know what to do or say. All you can do is sit there and think. You feel dazed because you didn't realize that something that horrible could actually happen--to a kid. You might hear stories on the news, but they are condensed into two-minute clips. Even though you know it is real, you have trouble relating. However, The Outsiders, even though it is not real, is very personal, and I cannot help but feel a connection with the characters in the novel.
The Outsiders is told from the point of view of Ponyboy, a young teenager whose parents have died. He now lives with his two older brothers--Darry and Soda (and yes, those are their real names). Ponyboy is also very close to the other "greasers" in his neighborhood. "Greasers" in this book are the boys who live on the poor side of town and wear lots of grease in their hair and carry switchblades.
The greasers are constantly being bullied by the "socs" (short for socials)who are the rich kids who drive nice cars and feel entitled. One day Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are attacked by several socs. They try to drown Ponyboy, so Johnny stabs one of them, killing him. The rest of the story is about how Ponyboy and Johnny react to what has happened. It is also a story of self-discovery for Ponyboy.
The story emphasizes the theme of not judging other people based on outward appearances. Ponyboy learns that he has more in common with the socs than he realized. This book is really about understanding the other side, putting yourself in someone else's shoes, and seeing the world from another point of view.
Even though this book is full of tragedy, it ends on a hopeful note, and you are left with the feeling that things can get better.