Nicole's Reviews > The Outsiders

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
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really liked it
bookshelves: ya, mlis-7423

Wow! Full disclosure ahead of time--this is my first time reading the book despite it being on my “to-read” list forever and never getting around to it. Also I’ve never seen the movie, but that will change soon.

The Outsiders is an incredibly gritty tale about a group of kids who don’t fit in and a group of kids who do. Delving a bit deeper into this, there’s a struggle to survive in a world where Greasers are not desired. They’re considered lesser than others--lower on the proverbial class scale, not worthy of humanity as they are attributed as a whole to a group of related stereotypes. The Socs are well-to-do, classy, and drive nice cars. Because that’s all you need to get through life, right?

This book is so relevant today. The groups could be representative of literally any conflicting “versus” environment. The privileged group tends to have lesser consequences for their deplorable actions--sometimes they do things that are even worse than those of the unprivileged group. The clash of right versus wrong (you decide which is which), of simply trying to exist in the same world where clear lines are drawn. A ripe classism of this nature still exists. In a related token, a reader can attribute these groups to ones divided by race. This is certainly relevant by today’s standards.

Although I could predict what would happen next, it didn’t stop my heart from wrenching at some moments, or my excitement in another. Sometimes I was on the edge of my seat just wondering (and hoping) that some situations would turn out differently than they did. Other times, what seemed satisfying ended up falling flat in the grand scheme of things. (view spoiler) What did it prove? The eruption didn’t seem to change either side for better or for worse. It was something to really ponder about.

I wouldn’t simply recommend this book to a teen who identifies themselves as a juvie (who really would, to be honest) nor would I for a young adult who’s got a perceived easy start in life thanks to their parents’ money and spends the day zooming around in Mustangs, beating up other kids but constantly getting away with it. I think this book stands the test of time because it’s so relatable to any young adult. The characters are so varied, vivid, and unique, a reader is bound to find themselves in some way. Struggling with the loss of a loved one. Family life. Friendship. Conflict. Society and class. Dating and heartbreak. These are simply a few of the themes I can name off the top of my head, many of which most young adults will have witnessed or faced at some point. I would introduce it as a novel of finding belonging and understanding. How the world can be so incredibly messed up but, between all of those things, there are hints of joy. Hints of just making it, because sometimes that’s all you can do. Survive. The characters are very realistic, the situations are engaging enough to keep a reader’s focus while not being outlandish or unbelievable. I would sell this as a rough coming-of-age story where there isn’t a fairy tale happy ending, but it can invoke some hope. Where the world several decades ago is still similar to the world of right now. It doesn’t make it any more tolerable but it does remind us to look for the golds in a life full of greens.

I don’t think this book would be inappropriate to the younger span of the young adult age range. While there is some violence, brief mentions of sex (but nothing overtly vulgar), and mentions of drug use, the story transcends those themes--and really, the plot really has some depth with some of these instances. Ages 12 and up seems most appropriate, in my opinion. The Outsiders could stand to be read even by adults, as many of the themes will resonate well with the current state of the world and the wickedness that sometimes comes with it.
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Reading Progress

January 15, 2021 – Started Reading
January 15, 2021 – Shelved
January 16, 2021 – Shelved as: ya
January 16, 2021 – Shelved as: mlis-7423
January 16, 2021 – Finished Reading

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