The Outsiders

img_5950Book: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Date Read: January 4 to 7, 2021

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

A few months ago, I wrote a post about revisiting previous reads through audio. This was my first audio book of the year. It is one that I had been sure that I had read before, although I do not own and it was long enough ago that I never had it listed in my logs. I feel like I normally have a pretty good memory for books, but as I was listening to this one, I started to question whether or not I really had read it before. Even after reaching the end, I am not entirely sure. One of the biggest factors in my uncertainty is a feeling that if I had read this years ago, I feel like it is one that would have stuck with me more. There are parts that were familiar to me: meeting the girls at the movie theater, hiding out in a church, even reading Gone With the Wind. At the same time, there were major events that I did not remember or anticipate at all.

I suppose all that is to say that this is an unusual one for me: a book that I am not sure I have ever physically read but finished on audio at the beginning of the year. There were so many things about this book that I really loved—and I have to say that some of the things that it did not fully resonate with me enough to get 5 stars probably has to do with me reading it now as an adult rather than when I was younger. In some ways, I think this might be the perfect book for its target demographic. While some aspects of it may be dated, Hinton does an excellent job of capturing how it feels to be a teenager even now—a weird mix of feeling like everything in the world is against you, but in some small way tuning in to the fact that others’ struggles may not be that different from your own. And, of course, feeling at the same time like everyone else’s struggles could not possibly be anything like your own personal experience.

Of course, the experiences of relayed by Ponyboy Curtis certainly fall outside the norm for the typical teenager—most readers probably find themselves somewhere in the middle between the two groups described in the book, although nonetheless feeling like they are also an outsider. I really enjoyed the voice of Ponyboy. He is introspective enough to add some depth to the character, but not so reflective and self-aware as to become unbelievable as a real teenage boy. This is a great book for middle school and high school age students, who may need the reminder that their thoughts and feelings are valid and shared. It’s also a great book for adults who may need a bit of a reminder about how hard it can feel to be a teenager.

Boris’s Thoughts: “I still don’t understand how you read with these. Where are the words? Where was the snuggles? Is it really a book if it did not involve cat snuggles?”

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