Read for Cannonball Read Bingo: Throwback Thursday
For the second time this summer, I re-read a middle school classic that stuck with me. The Giver was as good as I remembered. This one, The Outsiders, was a little less so but still maintained its charm.
The negatives though are small ones and they don’t outweigh the the book’s empathy and understanding. SE Hinton wrote this when she was 16 so she gets how teenagers talk. There’s no patronizing or condescension the way there often is when adults write younger characters. The reader really gets a sense of these people, how they live their difficult lives and why they make the decisions they do.
Also, re-reading reminded me how it gave 12-year old me an understanding for class dynamics in a way I didn’t before. There were people of varying income levels at my old middle school but there was little stratification on the basis of finance. No “wrong side of the tracks.” I found this a little more when I went to high school (learning the term “white trash”) and when I did, my mind would go back to certain encounters in this book. Re-visitng childhood favorites is frequently a dangerous proposition but this one worked because If found it had impacted me in a better way than I anticipated.
It’s definitely a book that takes shortcuts and its dialogue can veer easily from cute to catchy to corny but I anticipated as much. It still holds up well. And it genuinely means well too.