012/07/200px-The_Outsiders_book.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”325″ /> It’s pretty typical for a student to not fully enjoy the reading material assigned to them for class. This summer, I am taking a course on Young Adult Literature. So far it’s been pretty fascinating, but this isn’t about the class. Our first assignment was to read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Many of my classmates had read this earlier in their college careers or even in high school. “Well, I saw the movie, doesn’t that count?” I asked… (it didn’t)
The book itself is relatively short, so it was a quick read, but it went by even faster because of the content. I could not put down this classic tale. Even more fascinating, S.E. Hinton is a woman whose protagonist in this novel is a teenage boy. Hinton wrote this book while she was in her teens, and this book has been said to have marked the beginning of young adult literature.
If you are unfamiliar with this story, as I was before the course, The Outsiders is a coming-of-age tale about a young boy named Ponyboy, his brothers Sodapop and Darry, and their group of friends, the Greasers: Dally, Johnny, and Two-Bit. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Ponyboy is his real name, not a nickname. A funny thing I noticed about Ponyboy was how he would just randomly throw in something about himself and brag while he was explaining something else. For example, he was talking about running then makes a quick sidenote that is something along the lines of, “Oh, by the way, I’m great at track, I’m on the A-team.” After the death of his parents, Ponyboy is left living with his two brothers and faces the regular problems any teenager would: school, girls, and bullies.
The bullies, in this case, are that of a higher social class, hence their nickname, “the Socs”. And after one of the Greasers, Johnny, takes a severe beating from them, tensions are even higher. The rivalry between the two gangs enters a whole new level after one night that results in death to one of the gang members.
The story wasn’t just about class vs. class, but also about the trials of growing up and how every kid goes through similar struggles. Though I am way past my teen years, I could relate to some of the issues Ponyboy and the rest of the gang had; things like having a crush on someone that’s not in the same social group. What bothered me a little about the book was that at some points of the story, you could really tell it was a female writer trying to write from a male perspective. For example, there’s a point in the story where Darry calls Ponyboy “Honey”. I don’t know too many men who call each other honey, and it kind of takes you out of the story.
Though this is not a new book, it’s a story that probably inspired a lot of the new young adult books today, and, in my opinion, it has a little more depth, and is easier to relate to, than most. If you’re looking for an easy, enjoyable, and quick summer read, pick up this classic tale.