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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; Review

February 1, 2010

Title: The Outsiders

Author: S.E. Hinton

Published: April 1, 1967 by Viking Press

Number of Pages: 192

Rating: 5/5

Quote:

Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn. Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot. But all the wrong sights, not the things you want to see.”

Review:

You know how every once in a blue moon, you run into one of those books that you know you’ll never forget? Every word you read becomes embedded in your skin, your bones, your heart. You simply know, as the result of some Avid-Reader’s-Intuition that the book you’re holding in your hands is special.

The Outsiders, for me at the very least, is one of those books. It’s powerful and thought-provoking, and in less than 200 pages! What a feat!

Ponyboy Curtis is a Greaser, through and through. His hair is always slicked back with ample amounts of the stuff, and he hangs out with a handful of other boys, most of whom have “greaser” written all over them.

An orphan living with his two brothers, Daryl – the oldest and meanest, and Sodapop – Pony’s best friend, Pony lives a tough but good-enough life. He gets good grades, loves his pals, and gets to mull over books and eat chocolate cake at home. Lurking beneath all this however, is the knowledge that one wrong step, one too-bad issue amongst the Greasers, and Pony and Soda could be sent to a boy’s home.

So, when things go awry one evening when Pony heads off with Johnny Cade, the “pet” of the group, Pony’s entire world is thrown upside down, to the left, to the right, and over his head.

Although it’s set back in the 1960’s, when S.E. Hinton wrote it in her teens, The Outsiders is immortal in all the ways that matter. Pony’s troubles, the friendships, and the boys’ personalities are all timeless and relatable. If you don’t love these kids, you’re either a cold-hearted person (in which case, I have no hope for you) or can’t read (find a first grade teacher).

The boys’ social situation is an issue directly addressed in the book as the guys fight and get-to-know Socs, the West-siders who have everything. “Tuff” cars and all. The senselessness of the ongoing fight between both classes seems barbaric and unnecessary to us, but is a part of life for the boys, something that they’ve been a part of for so long that it seems inescapable. No matter how much some of them try to run away from it, it’s there. Socs and Greasers at a gas station, their blades reflecting the sunlight. Over the course of the book, Pony gets the opportunity to mull over the predicament. To roll it over in his head and examine its smallest crevices. Over and over throughout the book, the same thing is said – It’s stupid, so quit it. It’s pointless, so don’t waste your strength. – because everyone knows that, no matter how many teeth you jam into a Soc’s arm, they win, for all it matters. They win because they have the opportunities in life to go beyond the lot and the gas stations.

S.E. Hinton really hits you with the reality of the characters’ situations. She’s blunt and truthful – everything you’re looking for in an author who’s relating fictional events based on realities, but most importantly, she’s sympathetic. She sees the argument from both the East and the West Sides, and she readily relates both, unbiased.

For me, sheltered little Madeleine, the life these boys lead was shocking – mainly because it felt so real, so much like life that I felt it was happening on my street. Because of that fact, I loved the book all the more. It made you feel everything right along with Ponyboy, and left you empty and worn out at the end, but wanting more. I didn’t care if I was emotionally exhausted by the whole thing. I’d go on draining myself because such a strong interest had taken hold of me. Tight. Tight. Tight.

And, naturally, this Wordbird’s favorite things about the whole book were those gosh-darned lovable characters. I loved all of them; right down to Dallas Winston, hard-core and “emotionless” (“Dally was so real he scared me.” – Ponyboy). The ragamuffins just burrow right into your heart and snuggle up. Soda, Dally, Darry, Johnny, Two-Bit, Steve, Pony – take your pick. They’re all wonderful, deep, and real. And those are just some of the Greasers – there are plenty more people you’ll learn to love and dislike in the book, and those are two things we all like to do.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for something that will teach you multiple lessons without being preachy, chastise you without your knowing it, and love you simultaneously.

Goodness gracious. I need to find more books that I don’t like! Anyway, The Outsiders is fantastic. Read it. Love it. Share it.

Oh, and, watch the movie. It’s great. (I don’t care how Cherry Valance feels: I love Dallas Winston – especially the one in the movie.)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Anthony Lasky permalink
    November 7, 2010 10:19 AM

    Great book and movie. this has to be my favorite book and im not that much of a reader. Maybe after reading this i will look into more of S.E Hintons books to read.

  2. October 13, 2010 8:22 PM

    The love began many years ago. Er, maybe only five. I’m sixteen now, it seems like a lot to me. Anywho. Nothing but love for The Outsiders, ever. Ponyboy is one of my favorite narrators of all time. Tuff review(s), I don’t understand how you reviewers do it all… By the by, S. E. Hinton wrote a lot of other great books. “That was Then, This is Now”, “Tex”, and “Rumble Fish” are the one’s I’ve read, but there’s one or two more. If you do read them, try to get ’em in that order – there’s a little bit of continuity, enough that you’ll want to read them that way.

    Happy reading. ^_^

    ~Sunny

  3. May 28, 2010 9:06 PM

    this is one of my favourite books! It kinda kicked off my reading-love after a huge slump in grade 7 😛 great review!! I loved Dally too..heck I loved all of them 🙂

  4. February 4, 2010 12:18 AM

    Great book and movie! 🙂

    Have you read The Great Gatsby, yet? Or Wuthering Heights? Two of my favs…

    • February 4, 2010 3:18 PM

      The Great Gatsby is on my list and I have read Wuthering Heights. I read it after Jane Eyre.

  5. February 2, 2010 11:18 PM

    I’ve not heard of this one but you made it sound really, really good!

  6. February 2, 2010 9:01 PM

    I read this a long time ago and this review made me want to read it again. Also, I’ve seen the movie, but I remember it being very dark and hard to watch (I don’t mean just the subject matter, I mean literally dark, so you can’t see things properly!).

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