First Lines: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.
I know, I know. How is it I have read so many books in my lifetime (my Goodreads list has just crossed the 900-books-read-since-2008 mark) and I’ve never read The Outsiders? Simply? It never seemed like something that would interest me. Also, people talk about it a lot, and I’m way more likely not to read a book recommended to me than I am to read it. But as a teacher, this is on the curriculum and I kinda have to read it.
Because it’s a classic, I’ll just copy the summary in here: In Ponyboy’s world there are two types of people. There are the Socs, the rich society kids who get away with anything. Then there are the greasers, like Ponyboy, who aren’t so lucky. Ponyboy has a few things he can count on: his older brothers, his friends, and trouble with the Socs, whose idea of a good time is beating up greasers. At least he knows what to expect-until the night things go too far.
You know, for as many books and movies and classes have spoiled the ending, I honestly didn’t remember how it ended. Most people know the “Stay gold, Ponyboy” line, and I knew a bit about the context in which it was said, but I didn’t remember it all.
Ok. So, let’s settle in here. I was actually a little surprised by how much I liked it. I mean, it’s twice as old as I am (probably). It’s about greasers (a group of people I honestly can’t define their characteristics), but more than that, it’s about people who have to stick together when no one else will stand up for them. I think that’s what makes it so much of a classic.
Admittedly, it is a bit outdated. I can already hear the questions I’ll get from students about who Paul Newman is and what a greaser is. But the themes behind it are good.
As a purely aesthetic read, I have to say that it was enjoyable. It was a little slow getting started, though, and sometimes there were some intense info-dumps. It took me at least 50 pages to really feel like I was in the story. (That’s about a third of the book.) It’s not something I would probably reread on my own, but it’s nice to at least say that I’ve read it once.
I also want to say that I really liked the characters. I thought they were strong and vulnerable, a good mix in male characters. Too often, male characters are just tough and don’t show their softer sides, which I hate. But this pulled it off convincingly while being true to the boys involved.
Finally, can I just say that it’s totally awesome that this was written by a 16-year-old high school girl? I’m probably more fascinated by that than anything else.