“The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent’s death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.”
Hinton, S.E. (1995). The Outsiders. New York, New York: Penguin Group. ISBN: 014240733X. Paperback. $10.00.
This is a story of a young boy named Ponyboy (14 years old) who is under the guardianship of his eldest of two brothers. He’s a bright young kid growing up in the wrong part of town who has been identified as, and also calls himself a Greaser. He and his friends, by virtue of his brothers, always seem to be getting themselves into trouble especially with another group called the Socs. These are the rich kinds of town who never seems to get into trouble no matter how often they try and pick fights with Ponyboy’s friends. In a series of unfortunate events, Ponyboy is almost drowned, his friend stabs a Soc and they have go into hiding. Their friend tells them about an abandoned church out in the countryside where they could lay low. After camping out there for around a week, their friend rendezvous with them, and while they’re away from the church, most likely one of their cigarettes starts a fire there. Ponyboy and his friend find out there are children trapped inside and run in to save them. Ponyboy makes it out without any serious injuries, but his Johnny’s back was broken when the church started to collapse. Shortly after that, the Greasers and the Socs setup a rumble to finally settle the score.
This book does well to humanize Ponyboy and the other Greasers who are just trying to survive in a tough neighborhood without much support from the community and even sometimes their families. As it’s considered a classic, I’d say it’s a no-brainer for school libraries as well as public libraries to purchase it for their teen collections. I know that many schools use this book for assigned reading and discussion and I feel that this is subject matter that many teens can relate to. Since I haven’t read much teen fiction, this may not be particularly insightful, but this book reminds me of the Catcher in the Rye in some ways. It focuses on a boy who has struggles both inside and outside and is trying to find his place in the world. I did enjoy reading this very much and would highly recommend it.
- Margaret Alexander Edwards Award
- New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books List
- Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book
- Media and Methods Maxi Award
- American Library Association Best Young Adults Books
- Massachusetts Children’s Book Award