Title: The Outsiders
Author: S. E. Hinton
Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: 1967
Price: $17.99 (hardcover) $9.99 (paperback) $25.00 (audio)
Interest Age: 12 and up
Lexile Level: 750
Annotation: Struggling in a difficult world, all Ponyboy Curtis wants is a place to belong.
Plot Summary: To Ponyboy Curtis, there are two types of people in the world – Socs and Greasers. Socs have money and can get away with almost anything. Greasers live on the outside and always have to watch their back. Ponyboy, a member of the Greasers gang, was walking home after watching a movie when a rival gang, the Socs, jump him. His brother, Sodapop, and other members of the gang rescue him. The next night at the movies, he and Johnny meet two girls at a drive-in movie theatre and realize there are nothing like the Socs they met before. Walking them home, they are stopped by Socs and a fight almost happens. Coming home late, his brother and guardian, Darry, yells at him and Sodapop devolving into a strike to his face. Angry, Ponyboy runs away from home and meets up with Johnny to run away. As they are walking in a park, they run into the same drunken Socs from earlier and they attempt to drown Ponyboy. Frightened, Johnny defends his friend accidentally stabbing Bob causing his death. To escape the death punishment, they run off and hide in an abandoned church. Hiding for a couple days, they decide to turn themselves in and head home. Before they can do so, a fire starts at the church and kids are trapped inside. Ponyboy and Johnny run back in to save them, but they do not escape unscathed.
Critical Evaluation: The Outsiders is about a group of teenagers who the world has forgotten. About teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks and fighting against the world perception of them. Small town prejudice and judgements based on appearances. Mostly, it’s about trying to find your place in the world and realizing we are not too difference from each other when it comes to the fundamentals – pain, loss, honor. All themes and messages that still matter today. Spot on characters with heartbreaking stories that you cannot help rooting for and authentic dialogue full of slang that drags you into their world. A fantastic and hopeful portrayal of the human spirit.
Author Bio: S. E. Hinton was the first author to receive the Young Adult Services Division/School Library Journal Award for Life Achievement, and has received numerous other awards and honors. Her gritty and powerful novels have also inspired four major motion pictures. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (via Ingram)
Tie to Curriculum Units: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Gangs, Families, Class Conflict, Honor
Challenge Issues: The Outsiders have been challenged before on various reasons from gang violence to broken families to underage drinking. I would cite this fantastic NYT article talking about the book 40+ years later or this NPR article. I would also mention the rich themes in the novel and that it is consider a classic in YA literature.