I read The Outsiders in high school. We didn’t have it as assigned reading for class, but I distinctly remember sitting in my eight grade Spanish class, ignoring my teacher while reading it under my desk (I did quite a bit of that). I remember thinking it was good, and getting sad at the sad bits, but that’s about it. After it was mentioned in great detail in Fangirl, then I saw it at a book sale for $1, I thought it might be worth a reread. I was right and wrong.
“It seemed funny that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”
For those who don’t know, The Outsiders is set in the 1960s in Oklahoma. The main character, Ponyboy, is a 14 year old being raised by his older brothers, Sodapop and Darry, after the death of their parents. He and his brothers are known as “greasers”, which is summed up at one point as “white trash with long hair”. They’re poor, and coarse, and boast about their criminal records. They butt heads with the “Socs”, who have more money, more class, and are often still criminals (but they get away with it). It’s pretty basic class war stuff. One night, Ponyboy and his friend Johnny get in a fight with a Soc, and everything goes to hell.
Here’s the thing. This book was written by Hinton when she (did you know the author was a girl? I had no idea!) was in high school. And that’s obvious. But she’s also supposed to be writing from a high schooler’s perspective (at the end, you find out he turns the account into a paper for school). So it’s not well-written, but I guess that lends to its authenticity. Hinton set out with the purpose of telling a story from a down-trodden kid’s point of view, and she does. It comes across a little cheesy now (or did to me, anyway), but it’s still a good story and worth a read, especially if you’ve only seen the movie or haven’t read it in a while. I still felt something for Ponyboy and Johnny, and that was Hinton’s whole purpose.