Who writes this stuff at just seventeen?
Susan Eloise Hinton wrote this magnificent novel as a symbolic representation of a dangerous social dichotomy that was arising at the time; gangs of young hoodlums who called themselves 'greasers' (think John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever) clashed with the 'Socs', the wealthy but coldhearted upper class youngsters.
S.E. Hinton first came on my radar after I saw the magnificent movie adaptation of her book 'Rumble Fish', featuring Matt Dillon, a star performance of Mickey Rourke and the ever beautiful Diane Lane. For those of you who have seen this movie, 'The Outsiders' will certainly strike a match. The world S.E. Hinton describes is shady, dark but also beautiful in its own way. The characters and their bonds are very impressive. Even though they are petty criminals, you can't help but feel for Darry, Soda, Johnny and protagonist Ponyboy.
Apart from having a certain romantic appeal (stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold...) one has to consider the message of this book. I loved how Hinton managed to make every dialogue relevant. Her style is quite extraordinary considering the age at which she wrote all of this. The book is short, but in the end, this is good, because this means nothing stops the rhythm of the book. There's no extra weigth here. Just a supremely confident book.
'The Outsiders' is one of those books that American scholars have to read compulsory, and finds itself in the good company of books such as [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313], [b:The Great Gatsby|4671|The Great Gatsby|F. Scott Fitzgerald|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361191055s/4671.jpg|245494], [b:To Kill a Mockingbird|2657|To Kill a Mockingbird|Harper Lee|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361975680s/2657.jpg|3275794] etc. This book is perhaps the most gritty one on the list. It's emotional, it's real, and it packs a great punch. Bravo.