“What it’s like to live lonely and unwanted and cornered by circumstance…There is rawness and violence here, but honest hope, too.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1965, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is a coming of age novel that revolves around the gang rivalry based on social class. It is not often that young readers can find books they can relate to and feel what the characters are feeling, but The Outsiders proves to be an enthralling book that narrates the tale of a normal teenager in special circumstances. Probably because of the fact that Hinton too was a teenager when she wrote the book, the teenage angst and feelings expressed along the story through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Ponyboy hit really close to home for me. The book is a real page-turner where you find yourself getting more and more involved in the characters as the story progresses.
The book teaches that looks aren’t everything, and that often the most decent-looking people can be the coldest and the meanest. It reflects upon the differences based on social class prevalent in our society and even 54 years after it was published, it still proves to be relevant. The author dives right into the story without much beating around the bush and takes us on an emotional roller coaster as the story unravels.
Throughout the book, Hinton has explored several dark themes that result in a feeling of uneasiness as we question our Utopian image of the world and reveals to us that not everyone is as privileged as us and that sometimes circumstances work in a way that lead to several actions with dire consequences. At the same time the book also gives us positivity and hope as to how we all truly are equal, as expressed so beautifully by Ponyboy-“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” The book has also beautifully dealt with how teenagers often feel pressure from their elders and every now and then the hollering gets on our nerves way more than we would like to admit. The author has succeeded in showing family in a new light, where it is not always necessarily the parents that care the most about you.
Overall the book is one of the best coming of age novels that I’ve read, mainly because of its riveting plot and compelling writing style. The story has really inspired me to always try to “stay gold.”
Tisha Jain, aged 16
Added 14th August 2019