Monday, November 16, 2009


Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. Puffin, 2006 (c1967) 180 p. PBK $10.00 ISBN 978-0142407332

SUMMARY: Ponyboy is 14 years old and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his older brothers, Darrel and Soda, ever since their parents died in a car wreck eight months ago. The three brothers belong to the Greasers gang, who are rivals with the Socs (Socials), a gang made up of rich kids from the other side of town. One night Ponyboy and fellow Greaser, Johnny, are out late talking in a park when they are accosted by some Socs. They defend themselves, but one of the Socs ends up dead in the scuffle. Because of this, the Socs challenge the Greasers to a rumble. After the tragic events of that night, including the deaths of two Greasers, Ponyboy has to find his place, motivation, and his voice once again with the quiet support of his brothers as he deals with the aftermath of these events.

RISKS: Gang violence, depictions of teen alcohol and tobacco use, physical abuse

EVALUATION: The Outsiders is remarkable for so many reasons: Susan Eloise Hinton was only 17 when the novel was first published and went on to sell 13 million copies. The book also arrived in bookstores at a moment when young Americans were increasingly dissatisfied with the affluent but banal culture of their "square" parents. It's no surprise, in other words, that a book filled with teen angst, social tension, and a revolutionary ethos would go on to captivate a nation gripped by violent war, new political visions, and young bohemian teens looking for some other way to live their lives. Hinton's tale of gang violence seems dated now (some of the 1950-60s terminology may seem foreign to young readers today--how many kids today use words like "rumble" and "greaser"?), but the themes of feeling marginalized, and of struggling to contain violence are still very much with us today.

READER'S ANNOTATION: There's a rumble coming between two gangs, the Socs and the Greasers. When things get violent, will Ponyboy get caught up in the scuffle, or find a way to make peace with the tragedies and inequalities of his own life and the community around him?

TOPICS: family life; gangs; violence; friendship; loyalty; death; Tulsa, Oklahoma; socioeconomic classes;

AWARDS: Margaret A. Edwards Award, 1988; ALA Popular Paperbacks, 2006

Ages 12 & up

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