Monday, January 24, 2011

YA Lit Week One: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton - 1965

This is the second book due for the first week of the YA Lit course.

Course Theme for the Week: "Introduction to the Course (1-26-2011)
Title: The Outsiders
Author: S.E. Hinton
Year: 1965
Date Read: 1-23-2011
Overall: * * * * * (5/5)

Amazon Blurb: 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 bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. This classic, written by S. E. Hinton when she was 16 years old, is as profound today as it was when it was first published in 1967.

My Review: I didn't actually know very much about this story before reading it. I knew a lot of middle schools had this as assigned reading, but mine did not, and I just never got around to reading it prior to this. I wish that I had not waited so long to read it though, because it sucked me right in and I just had to know the rest of Ponyboy's story. At times I was fearful to keep reading, because I didn't want anything bad to happen to him or his brothers, or his friends.
I liked the honesty in Ponyboy's voice, and that he didn't seem angry about his place in the world, but that he seemed to accept things even if those things weren't fair. The differences in each character's personalities were very distinct, especially the differences between kids like Johnny or Ponyboy and kids like Dallas. Ponyboy's world is so completely different from mine that I couldn't put the book down because of how little I could relate to his world and his lifestyle.
I think that people of any age could get a lot out of this book. The ultimate lesson for me was to never let all of the bad things in the world black out all of the good things, like sunsets. When Johnny died, it did something to Ponyboy for a while, until he could see that Johnny wouldn't want him to be like that, to become like Dallas, and so in the end he tried to hold onto those bits of innocence he had left.
At some points, I could really feel some similarities between The Outsiders and The Catcher in the Rye, particularly because Ponyboy's thought process was often, in my opinion, very similar to Holden Caulfield's. There were some observations that Ponyboy made that sounded very much like Holden's (like how people are different in their yearbook pictures, and how repetitive both narrators were). This wasn't a bad thing for me, and I don't think I would have noticed if I hadn't read them within the same week.

To Buy: Amazon

Currently Reading:
For Class -- Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, Forever by Judy Blume
Other -- Bleed by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Books Read in 2011: 8

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