Teenage Fiction (14+)
This may be a novel aimed at young people, but it is a powerful, poignant novel which will resonate with adults too. It deals with key issues about the realities of life, such as: lost youth, lost potential, violence, and the economic and social divides.
The novel is narrated by a fourteen-year-old boy, nicknamed Ponyboy, in a colloquial, personal style. Ponyboy is sensitive and intelligent, however, he is poised between two paths for his future. Will he be drawn into the life of his family and friends - the working class 'greasers' - a life of switchblades, 'rumbles' and dead end jobs. Or will he be able to escape the fatalism and realise his dreams?
Juxtaposed against Ponyboy and his fellow 'Greasers' are the rival gang of the rich 'Socs', who 'get all the breaks'. The animosity and violence which exists between these two gangs leads to emotionally shattering events which will affect Ponyboy and his friends forever.
The main strength of this book is the detail invested in all of the characters. Though the various members of the 'Greasers' gang are tough, dangerous 'men', Hinton shows their vulnerable sides and their unrealised dreams. Darry - Ponyboy's older brother, gave up a football scholarship to collage to look after his two younger brothers after the death of their parents. Johnny - Ponyboy's best friend, is so traumatised by the violence of both the outside world and his home life, he becomes obsessed with defending himself at any cost. Dally - he has a cold soul, and seems emotionally untouchable, but when the death of (Not going to spoil it) occurs, he emotionally breaks down. All of the characters together create a beautiful novel which, even though filled with harsh realities, provides a message of hope.
'The Outsiders' is an emotional read - I am slightly teary just from recounting my review. I think it is an amazing read and all teens and their parents should read it.
Also: there is a really good film version with Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Matt Dillon, directed by Francis Ford Copolla.