SE Hinton’s coming-of-age masterpiece, The Outsiders turned 50-years-old on April 24th! Most people first encounter the novel in middle school among the literature we are required to read, but The Outsiders stands out. The characters aren’t just cool, they are incredibly relatable. The story is thrilling, and most importantly, beneath the murders and brawls, is a story of sincere friendship.
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The book follows the “Greasers”, a working-class gang that likes to break the rules. Despite their hooligan attitude, they have genuine, deep love for each other. As teenagers, we yearn for friends as selfless as Dallas or Sodapop – ready to go to war in a friend’s name.
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The teenage voice in The Outsiders comes across as genuine, which most Young Adult novels fail to do. SE Hinton was likely able to mimic a YA sentiment because she started writing it when she was only 15-years-old. Rather than writing the story as an adult with an obvious age gap between her and her characters, she addressed teenage troubles that she were likely dealing with in her own high school. In fact, the two rival groups featured in the book, the rich “Socs” and the poor “Greasers” were inspired by real groups at Hinton’s school. Different social groups and cliques are a part of every school, which makes the Greasers vs Socs battle relevant to this day.
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Deemed one of the most challenged books of the 20th century, The Outsiders maintained it’s popularity. It is considered a classic must-read, with realistic, jolting themes and eye-opening violence.
So reread your favorite book from middle school and dream again of having a friendship as great as Ponyboy and Johnny.
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