Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

Summary: According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.
(Cover image from Wikipedia, summary from author's website,

My Review: Ponyboy, age fourteen, has lost both his parents and is now growing up in the care of his older brothers, Darry and Soda. This poor makeshift family lives on the rough side of town and is part of the greaser gang, a group of troubled boys living under similar conditions. This gang membership is not a choice but an expectation. The greasers continually feud with the socs, a gang of high society rich kids. Ponyboy is a smart kid and has a hard time coming to terms with the disparity between the expectations set upon him by society and the desires he has for his own future. Things come to a head when one of his fellow gang members, Johnny, kills a soc while saving Ponyboy’s life. Ponyboy and Johnny flee town searching for a way out of the life they are leading and in the process pondering the meaning to life overall.

This book was written in the 1960’s and yet many of the themes such as coming-to-age, belonging, and defining one’s own identity are relevant today. Because there remains a divide in social-economic classes and rivalries play a large role in growing up, this book could still resonate with today’s youth. The story is interesting and proceeds at a quick pace. Ponyboy’s character was not entirely believable but still likable and easy to empathize with, an important characteristic for the protagonist in young adult literature. Though some situations feel a bit over-dramatized and a few characters remain underdeveloped, the book has a refreshing sense of honesty and the author’s message is clear. Additionally, the fact that this was written by a sixteen-year-old girl may provide inspiration to young aspiring writers.

My Rating: 4 Stars

To Sum it up: A coming-of-age story that will resonate on some level with most young adults.

Sensitive readers: This book was controversial when it was written and it remains controversial today. I would recommend this one to ages 12 and up, but you may want to be aware that there is some offensive language, violence, and alcohol use.


Gage said...

Hey Annette!!! I love your blog! You are awesome! I can't wait to check this one out of the library. And now I am going to go stalk your other posts to add some to my "to read" list. :)

Gage said...

Oops, just realized that Annette wasn't the one who posted this post! My bad :) Heather, I'm sure you're great too, haha!

Unknown said...

For a classic of YA literature, I think we can suspend disbelief for Ponyboy's character, no? :) It was a pretty powerful book despite its weakness, I think.

Heather said...

Agreed, Rachel, which is why I gave it 4 stars. I actually really enjoyed Ponyboy's character, even if his thought process and emotions weren't entirely realistic for a 15-year-old boy. I am sure this is mostly do to the fact that the book was written by a 16-year-old girl, and there is such a difference between boys and girls at this age. most importantly the book carries a very powerful message that can be appreciated by all, regardless of sex.


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