The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This book is a challenge to review, as I feel much differently about it now reading the story through the eyes and experiences of an adult rather than a kid. I don’t recall exactly when I first read this book, but there were so many things that I noticed about it that I didn’t the first time. When I originally read the book, I didn’t know anything about the author. As soon as I started reading the Outsiders, the writing just struck me oddly and never allowed me to be fully engaged in the plot.
The author put a lot of focus on her main character describing the physical appearances of himself and his counterparts. I’m afraid it sounds gender-biased, but it just read to me as if a girl was writing a boy character rather than solely hearing the character’s unique voice. That, with the addition of some of the adjectives used in the story, sometimes made it challenging to be fully engaged in the narrative. For example, the number of times the boys call one another baby or honey baffled me. That being said, it could have been terminology that was freely used during the time period in which this book takes place. It’s not something that I know for sure.
The story was very reminiscent of Grease or West Side Story. There are two groups of kids who just don’t understand one another because of their differences – yet all it takes is that one person to take a hard look at the situation and realize that maybe people aren’t as different as they seem. You can have different experiences, but at the end of the day you also all experience life with all of its accompanying trials and tribulations, loves and losses, and it’s something that can bond you together. I enjoyed the themes of this book and feel that they can be very relatable to teen readers, despite the fact that the time period might not be a familiar to them.
The characters were not as developed over the course of the novel as I had hoped that they would be, but there was a fair amount of development. Our main character, Ponyboy experiences the most tumultuous time throughout the novel and is forced to take a hard look at a number of aspects of his life. Johnny had so much hidden depth that was never explored and yet the author ensured that he gave the classic line: Stay gold, Ponyboy. Sodapop was probably my favourite character, as he had such a good heart and just wanted what was best for his brothers. I wish Darrel and Dallas had different names because I was constantly forgetting which boy was which since Ponyboy called them Darry and Dally. Steve and Two-Bit were the least developed of the group and I couldn’t tell you much about them after reading it. As the whole group is an important, interconnected unit, I had hoped for more.
Overall, I can see why people gravitate to this story and its themes. No matter the era or the person, you can relate on some level to the Outsiders. Ponyboy struggles with acceptance, death, his place in the world, school, and so much more – which is a universal struggle.
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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton