Again, when a students tells you a book is their favorite and is super excited by it, you have to read it. Ricardo told me about this one and how much he loved it. So when I found a copy, I gave it to him after reading it.
Oddly, for all the reading I did as a kid, I never read this. I know it’s like the most famous YA ever and all that, but somehow it passed me by.
So to start off the review I will mention some weird things about it based on reading it for the first time as a 35 year old instead of as a kid.
- When I asked my girlfriend where she thought it took place, her guesses were New Jersey or Michigan. Fair enough. She also said she would have California, but that’s Rebel Without a Cause. Anyway! Errrrrnnnn! Oklahoma. (Probably, but it never says)
- Did you know that the main character and his brothers are really into rodeo and horseback riding? Would that have been your guess in a book about “Greasers”? Not mine
- The author was basically 18 when she wrote this. Which is insane to me.
Anyway, it holds up. It’s got some goofy stuff to it….like the whole deal of being “greasers” in the first place, but the novel does a job of showing that this distinction is not about gangs but about class, and how the social warfare that’s going on is about who has money and who doesn’t, not some goofy fake gang stuff. Also, the novel does a pretty good job of explaining character motivations of both groups of boys. Something that is vital for good YA novels, but also given that this novel is 50 years old, ahead of the curve.