Mark's Reviews > The Outsiders

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
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Sep 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, engl-412-fall-2011, young-adult-literature, re-read, relationships, sibling-relationships, death-and-dying
Read from October 18 to 19, 2016

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

I sometimes forget how much I like this novel. This is the first time I've read it since my very first graduate class in YAL, about 13 years ago, so there was a lot I didn't remember. Hinton's book, written when she was a Tulsa teenager, is considered one of the landmark publications in young adult literature, and rightly so. Prior to Hinton, almost no authors for children/young adults were writing about "serious" topics such as gangs, difficult home lives, and death. The fact that Hinton approached these subjects (in this, and her other early novels) in a straight-forward manner, without interjecting moral lessons, and did it through a first person POV, I think, is significant. Told through the eyes of Ponyboy, this tale of class warfare, between the Greasers and the Socs, still holds water today.

I see this book taught all over the place; had we remained in Oklahoma for our daughter's middle school years, she would have read this book. It's become a staple in secondary curricula, yet also one of the most challenged books around. It's also interesting that the entire book is supposedly written as a school assignment, revealed only at the conclusion. The role of education in the novel, and the novel's adoption by schools for instructional use, seem to be intertwined. If the "way out," for Ponyboy at novel's end, is to simply study harder, and possibly leave for college some day, then that says something about the power of the individual to overcome obstacles and odds. But what does that do, if anything, for the "hundreds and hundreds of boys" to whom Ponyboy refers at the end of the book, and the social class they represent? I love when books can appear relatively simple on the surface, and present just a good read, yet offer a lot more to readers who want to dig deeper. Reading Hinton again, I'm reminded of how well she presents both options to her audience.
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Reading Progress

10/19/2016 marked as: read

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