This may be a little late, but I thought it necessary to pay tribute to the seminal work The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
I think we all know the book I’m talking about. Ponyboy. Sodapop. The socs and the greasers. The now infamous refrain: Stay gold.
I remember when I was introduced to The Outsiders.
It was in grade seven or eight. I was always one of those kids that tended to enjoy assigned reading, and this was no exception. I struggled to not read ahead.
We were reading the book aloud in class, each student taking a turn. I was petrified of it being my turn, and remember one particularly early morning half falling asleep during my turn and spouting nonsense. So, that was fun. Took me a little while to live down.
I have generally fond memories of the book. I remember for my final project about it I made a The Outsiders card game. That was fun.
When we had finished the book, we, of course, watched the star-studded film adaptation. This was the first of many times I would see this movie during school. It’s still a favourite.
The Outsiders is not just any old book.
It’s not just a story about teenagers, kids from the wrong side of the track. It’s about the things that divide us, and the things that hold us together. And that title; it’s perfect on so many levels. The author herself sums it up pretty well: “not only are the outsiders the Greasers, they’re characters like Ponyboy and Cherry who feel like outsiders, even in their own group.”
The publication of this book kind of marked the beginning of a golden age for Young Adult literature. It was published in ‘67 and throughout the ‘70s, we saw a continuation of more deeper, realistic lit for teens. You have the likes Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, and Lois Lowry on the scene, continuing to talk to teens where they are at.
Now we have a rich collection of teen books that dive into the meaty stuff and don’t shy away from heavy, and important, topics. In many ways, we have The Outsiders to thank for that.