“It seemed funny that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”
-S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is a heart-breaking story of compassion, love, and sharp pain of loss. Ponyboy Curtis lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is part of the gang called the Greasers. The Socs are the opposing gang, who lived on the other side of town; the wealthy side. Ponyboy was born into a family of Greasers which made joining the Greasers obligatory. He always knew that if he were allowed to live his life the way he wanted, he wouldn’t want to be part of the gang.
He immediately connects with Cherry Valence, a girl he met in a drive-in theater, but whose loyalty lies with the Socs. They both believe that the rivalry isn’t necessary. When Ponyboy understood that the same sunset he saw from his side of town was seen from Cherry’s side, he realized everyone was united as one.
But when his friend Johnny stands up to a Soc, he and Ponyboy have to run away to escape the consequences. Their journey is full of bravery, loyalty, and loss. And when the most tragic event happens, how will the loss affect the gang mentally and emotionally, as the tight-knit family that they are, and how will the loss affect the rivalry between the Socs and the Greasers?
Reading this book made me feel pity for the characters who are required to be someone their not. When Ponyboy truly expresses his feelings about the gang, due to his dream for a tranquil life, it was distressing to me that he was trapped in a life of discord. Today’s lifestyle has not changed dramatically. People still take sides, which establishes rivalry and contention. However, this book taught a crucial lesson of how gang brutality and separation of the social classes affected the people, and how the groups eventually learned peace.
I would recommend this book to kids 12 and up, due to the complex vocabulary, gang violence, and derogatory terms.