I can't believe that the author, S.E. Hinton, is a girl! Well, a woman by now, but you know what I mean. Wow, am I impressed with this book! My friend Elaine lent it to me because it's one of her favorites. It took me a while to get to it, because I thought I wouldn't really be into the subject - the book is about teenage boys, gang stuff, etc. But wow, The Outsiders goes straight onto my favorites of the year list.
The book is narrated by Ponyboy - that's his real name, it says so on his birth certificate. One of his brothers is called Sodapop. :-) Anyway, Ponyboy is a Greaser - part of a group of underprivileged boys known for greasing their hair back and for being rough and tough. These are the boys no one believes in and who always get accused first when something goes wrong. They are in constant conflict with the Socs - the rich kids. 'Socs' is pronouned 'Soashes', short for 'Socials' - I pronounced it 'socks' all the way through and it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.
The story is about so much - growing up, being poor, loving your family and friends, being loyal, class differences, tolerance and so much more. Several things struck me specifically:
Firstly, I loved the scenes where Ponyboy and his two brothers hung out together. The warmth of their feelings for one another practically jumped off the pages. Actually friends were family too, so I felt this warmth a lot. It was a lovely opposite to some of the rough behavior.
Secondly, I loved how Ponyboy realised that rich or poor, everyone has problems. And that it's humanly possible for him to relate to some of the Socs too.
Thirdly, I loved that not everything ended happily. Some characters go over the problems and some didn't. That's life. In fact, the author herself said that she wanted to write something that showed teen life as it was. Nothing realistic existed at that time (1960s).
This would be the place to mention that, probably because of the realism, The Outsiders has been banned and challenged numerous times. Too much violence, the kids smoke and some drink and (can you imagine?) most of them come from broken homes. The fact that this is primarily a book about being a good, tolerant and loving person doesn't seem to help.
I loved Ponyboy, his brothers and their friends. And I'm amazed by this author - she started writing this when she was 15! I am now very curious about her other books, although I can't imagine how she could ever match this.
Challenges: A-Z Challenge, 999 Challenge, Banned Book Challenge, Decades Challenge, New Authors, YA Challenge