All about books: The Outsiders

As part of my New Year’s (or thereabouts) resolution to read more classics, I re-read The Outsiders by SE Hinton. Not strictly a classic – no orange-and-white cover here – but Puffin calls it a Modern Classic and I’m happy to agree. Given that it was written in 1967 and I last read it in about 1984, I was surprised by how the themes still resonate – as does the language.

SE Hinton was 17 when she wrote the book and I’m incredibly impressed by the simple, straightforward way in which she tells the story. Especially now that I know how difficult that is. Ponyboy’s voice, as narrator, is clear and male – no mean feat. The characters are all well-drawn, given that we have a first-person narrator and only get one perspective. There’s a lot of Show, and we’re allowed to come to our own conclusions about them, even as we take in Ponyboy’s.
I think the one thing that really surprised me about the book was how much I’d changed. (That this surprised me surprises me even more…). When I read it the first time I was 15, and I wanted to be in the gang – or at least hold hands with one of them (particularly after I saw the movie). These days, I just want to take them all home and look after them.
The only parents in the book are dead or losers. Appealing in their absence when you’re 15. Sad and lonely when you have sons of your own.
If you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it for a few years, find a copy. It’ll help you remember a little bit what it was like to be a teen. Even if only what it was like to be you as a teen.

Comments 20

  1. I think I only ever saw the movie, so this is a great reminder to get the book. And I think the fact that I also have 2 little boys sure to challenge me in their teens means I’ll be able to read without constantly being distracted by my teen-crush on C. Thomas Howell 😉

  2. Oh, how I wanted to be a Greaser or at least have them all over to my house for dinner. Haven’t read this in forever, and now I’m headed to my library online to reserve a copy.

  3. I don’t know this book or this movie but what you said still resonates. I quite often re-read books I read as a child/teenager. Anne of Green Gables was the latest and it seemed totally different. It was more about nature, the cycle of life and less about Gilbert.dyeing your hair green. But it also transported me back to feeling like that again. Same with I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Lovely post again.

  4. I loved the book when I read it 100 years ago. I don’t think I want to re-read it though after my experience with The Catcher in the Rye recently. I loved old Holden at school and found him incredibly painful as an adult (all that teenage angst. Ouch!).

    The Outsiders was on Foxtel recently though. I had’t seen it since the ’80s and it was such a fantastic movie. Patrick Swayzse was about 21 and all the little hotties that are in made me swoon all over again!

  5. I’m too scared to re-read it in case all my fantasies about Ponyboy are shattered. He’s been in my head since I first read the book when I was 15 (rather a long time ago now).

    Hope to see you back on Twitter next week!

  6. I love, love, love this book. I think it has one of the best opening lines ever, and it always sticks in my mind….”When i stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the move house, i had only two things on my mind: paul newman, and a ride home….”
    She is a legend.

  7. I vaguely remember reading this book, but i think my curiosity has got the better of me and i’ll try to find a copy and re-read it. I’m sure i would have remembered watching the movie though patrick oh yum.

  8. Hello via the Rewind, and must confess that I have never heard of this book… it’s fame didn’t spread as far as Scotland maybe? But have added to my Amazon wish list where I keep my ‘books to read’ list.

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