A heroic story of friendship and belonging
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. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…
Written over forty-five years ago, The Outsiders is a dramatic and enduring work of fiction. 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.
I’ve never read an SE Hinton book before; I’ll admit that until I read the introduction of The Outsiders that I didn’t even realise that Hinton was female. I assumed that a book about teenage boys and gang culture was written by a male writer. This was the first of many shocks; good shocks but ones that made me realise that I had a prejudice in me that I wasn’t aware of. Another surprise is that a book of such high acclaim could be written by someone so young. Hinton wrote her debut novel at the tender age of 17. Impressive – there is not much else to say on that matter
The Outsiders centres on two rival gangs the ‘Greasers’ and the ‘Socs.’ The ‘Greasers’ come from the wrong side of the tracks, have no money, work hard but for very little and they have little chance of bettering themselves. As opposed to the ‘Socs’ – the middle/upper class people of society who get away with whatever they do because they have the money to back them up.
Things get out of hand when greaser Johnny kills a Soc when trying to save his friend (and the protagonist of this story) Ponyboy. This causes an out and out war between both gangs and the results are fatal.
It would be fair to say that nearly 50 years on from its publication date that the slang in The Outsiders is dated but the intention and the thematic resonance of the book is still extremely powerful and relevant in modern society. There are still gang related crimes happening everyday; there are still young children playing at being grown-ups with no worry of the consequence. SE Hinton’s debut novel is still as potent and as readable today as it would have been when it was first released.
What I will say is that as a book reviewer it does take a lot to impress me and whilst I do really like a lot of the books that I read it does take something special to have be finish it in one sitting. That is exactly what happened with The Outsiders. This book is a classic for a reason.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton is available now.