Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This is the first book for my YA Lit class. It was an interesting one to start with. I had read other Hinton books, but not this one.

Hinton does a great job of pulling you in to a gang of boys who look, from the outside, as if they have nothing going for them. Yet watching the events play out from inside - through Ponyboy's eyes - you have a completely different sense.

The story is told by a 14 year old on the edge of the gang, the school, the family. His is the textbook definition of an outsider from so many different angles. Yet, he also belongs to many different groups. He describes himself as a person who sees the sunset. His friend Johnny calls him Gold after Ponyboy recites a Robert Frost poem. Let's see - how may other 'greasers' would be able to recite poetry? How many non-greasers would be able to recite poetry?

I found the story sad, yet in a very detached way. Maybe it's because I am so many decades away from 14 - or maybe because this was an assigned book, but I wasn't able to sympathize the way I usually do. Instead, I could respect Ponyboy and the rest of the gang's perspective.

But, my motherly side wanted to shout at them and shake them and remind them that 'rumbling' will not make the problem go away, it only exacerbates it if they beat the Socs. So - for a pack of unmothered young men - they make some lousy decisions and come to some amazing ahha moments.

My favorite part is that it doesn't end at any event - instead it ends as it begins..."I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

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