Outsiders

suggested cover for The Outsiders

Hinton, S. E. (1967). The Outsiders. New York, NY: Speak
Plot Summary:

Ponyboy’s life isn’t the stuff of dreams- but it’s not all bad either.  He’s got his brothers still, if not his parents, and while he may have the occasional run in with the preppy socs, he also has the rest of the greasers to back him up.  For the times when even all that is not enough, Ponyboy can always escape into movies and books.   But when the unthinkable happens, Ponyboy and his friend Johnny find themselves on the run from both the socs and the law, and in more danger than they ever thought possible.
Critical Evaluation:
Nearly half a century after it was first published The Outsiders has lost some of the freshness that made it so unique and trailblazing back in the day.  That is the price of being the kind of story that other authors aspire to write.  What it has not lost is its appeal and ability to speak to teens about their experiences.  While the specific language, weapons, and consequences have changed, the underlying themes of class conflict, friendship, loyalty, and hope (or lack thereof) still rings true for modern teen readers.
Reader’s Annotation:

When trip to the movies with his best friend ends in disaster, Ponyboy finds himself on the run and running out of luck.
Author Information:

Like a lot of young adult authors who began to make their mark decades ago, S. E. Hinton doesn’t have much of an online presence.  She can be found/contacted at:
http://www.sehinton.com/

sehinton@sehinton.com

Genre:

Classics

Booktalking Ideas:

This is such a beloved book that I might be tempted to steal from (better written) amazon and goodreads reviews by teens themselves.  Talking up the fact that Hinton was a teen herself when she wrote the book would be a good angle as well.

Reading Level/Target Age:

5th grade / 12-16
Potential Controversy:
While there might be objections to the language and activities in the book, and the title is in fact still often challenged, it’s longstanding status as a beloved story and a required reading title in schools across the nation makes such challenges easier to refute than they are for many other books.
Reasons for Choosing This Title:

I somehow missed reading The Outsiders as a teen myself and never really had any intention of correcting that until I got to hear Ms. Hinton speak at a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books.  Hearing her talk about writing in general, and specifically this story, made me curious about her work.

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