No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.
The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction that laid the groundwork for the YA genre. S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published.
“The Outsiders transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer world.” —The New York Times
Susan Eloise Hinton’s career as an author began while she was still a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Disturbed by the divisions among her schoolmates into two groups–the Greasers and the Socs–Hinton wrote The Outsiders, an honest, sometimes shocking novel told from the point of view of an orphaned 14-year-old Greaser named Ponyboy Curtis. Since her narrator was male, it was decided that Hinton use only her first initials so as not to put off boys who would not normally read books written by women. The Outsiders was published during Hinton’s freshman year at the University of Tulsa, and was an immediate sensation.Today, with more than eight million copies in print, the book is the best-selling young adult novel of all time, and one of the most hauntingly powerful views into the thoughts and feelings of teenagers. The book was also made into a film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and featuring such future stars as Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise.Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as “The Voice of the Youth” among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer’s block.Her boyfriend (and now, her husband), who had gotten sick of her being depressed all the time, eventually broke this block. He made her write two pages a day if she wanted to go anywhere. This eventually led to That Was Then, This Is Now.In the years since, Ms. Hinton has married and now has a teenaged son, Nick. She continues to write, with such smash successes as That Was Then, This Is Now, Rumble Fish and Tex, almost as well known as The Outsiders. She still lives in Tulsa with her husband and son, where she enjoys writing, riding horses, and taking courses at the university.In a wonderful tribute to Hinton’s distinguished 30-year writing career, the American Library Association and School Library Journal bestowed upon her their first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors authors whose “book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.”
An incredibly intimate portrayal into the lives of teenagers from ‘both sides of the track.’
I was hooked from the opening line:
Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers, Darry and Sodapop, are getting by after the deaths of their parents, but life isn’t easy. Darry had to quit school in order to care for his younger brothers, determined to keep his family together even though money is tight and trouble never far away.
The boys and their friends are known as greasers, often preyed upon by the rich socs who take pleasure in taunting them with all that they don’t have.
Life on the streets is brutal. Either you protect one another, or perish. The author does an incredible job of drawing the reader into Ponyboy’s life. It’s impossible not to have empathy for these tough, loyal, misunderstood young men.
I first read this book as an English assignment way back in grade eight and it has stayed with me all of these years. This is a timeless story of disparity and inequality, never more important than in these uncertain times.