Apr 9, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: The Outsiders

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was originally released in 1967. I picked this up on a whim after catching the 1983 film of the same title, staring very young versions of Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, and many others, on tv.

The Outsiders follows the struggle and strife of life on the outskirts of 1960's Oklahoma society. Ponyboy Curtis is a Greaser (lower middle class kids known for their long, greasy hair) along with his brothers Darry & Sodapop. Darry became their guardian when they were orphaned by a tragic car accident. Ponyboy's best friend Johnny is a shy, quiet greaser with a terrible home life. They all mostly do what they want, while trying to avoid confrontations with the Socs (Socials, the upper mid-class kids from the right side of the tracks).

One night after seeing a movie together, Johnny & Ponyboy are seen walking with two Soc girls who also saw the same movie. The girls' boyfriends don't take too kindly to the Greasers messing with their girls. While there isn't a fight immediately, later that evening when the boys are blowing off steam after fights at their respective homes, their are caught by some Socs in a local park. The boys start getting the snot kicked out of them and soon Ponyboy blacks out after nearly being drowned in the fountain. He comes to next to a shell-shocked Johnny and a dead Soc.

They flee the city because they know there's no way they'll get a fair shake in court. While hiding out in an abandoned church, they gather information from town from a fellow Greaser Dally. Eventually, when word comes that the Greasers and Socs are going to go toe to toe in a rumble, the guys decide it's time to return and face up to their actions, after the rumble. When they're getting ready to grab their stuff and head out, someone completely unexpected happens forcing them to make decisions that will forever affect how they are viewed in society.

The book means SO much to me. From the fact that Ponyboy reads from Gone with the Wind when they're out at the church to the way Darry and Ponyboy butt heads is just poetic to me. I felt like I really understood the Greasers and that the Socs really were just spoiled brats. You could fast forward to today and other than the "rumbles" the situation is still pretty much the same. This book is timeless!!

While sometimes it could get a little character heavy (there are SO many names and a few of them are only a few letters different) and there was a little too much testosterone, the plot was rather original and unique in its own right. It was so really and lifelike, almost like the author was writing about something he had actually witnessed. All the guys represent almost extremes of different emotions and personalities, the mixture of which can sometimes be volatile or calming.

This really is a must read book and the movie is quite true to the story. A fanmade movie trailer is linked at the bottom, check it out to see some famous movie hunks way back when. Anybody already read/seen it? If not, whichever one you do decide to experience, I know you won't be disappointed!

1 comment:

Jo said...

I was just talking to a friend of mine about this book the other day! :) I actually read Hinton's "That Was Then, This is Now," more times than The Outsiders, but I think I'll revisit the Outsiders again.