“Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold”
It seems like so long ago that I read The Outsiders. I was in grade 8 when we read the book an watched the movie! I have been listening to the story while my daughter (who is now in grade 8) is reading it at school. I had forgotten so much of the storyline that it was like reading it for the first time… except for the spoilers shared by Erin!
It is the coming of age story of Ponyboy, a teen who is living with his older brothers after the tragic death of their parents. He is getting good grades at school, a strong member of the track team but involved with rumbles with a rival gang. His is a “greaser” and when a “soc” (short for social’s who have money) is killed by his friend Johnny, Ponyboy learns many lessons about loss, friendship and family.
The book has serious content: drinking, fighting and death yet provides an opportunity for discussion. It is hard not to think about the recent attention by the school boards and media about the book and series, Thirteen Reasons Why. This may be a staple in classrooms years from now as it too opens the lines of communication about series topics which effect teens!
It was interesting that S.E. Hinton (of course I was curious about the initials and with he power of the internet learned that her name is Susan Eloise) wrote the book when she was 16 years old. She couldn’t find relevant books dealing with teen issues so she wrote one herself, 1967! Her biography on her website shares that she was known as “the Voice of the Youth”. With all the attention, the site says that she had a 3 year writing block which ended when her boyfriend (now her husband) encouraged her to write 2 pages a day leading to That Was Then, This is Now.
Hinton has written 9 books ranging from children’s books to her novels for teens. I recall reading That Was Then, This is Now, Tex and Rumblefish years ago. These four books were also made into movies with star studded casts. It was interesting to review the cast of The Outsiders which was adapted in 1983 by Francis Ford Coppola and included: Matt Dillon (Dallas), Ralph Machhio (as Johnny although we would later all know him as the Karate Kid), C. Thomas Howell (a name I don’t recognize was Ponyboy), the late Patrick Swayze (Darrel), Rob Lowe (Sodapop), Emilio Estevez (Two-Bit) and Tom Cruise as Steve. Hinton herself made a cameo appearance!
These books have been both banned and celebrated! The Outsiders has been a staple in curriculums which my 3 eldest have each studied. The book has stood the test of time and generations of teens have read it and discussed it with their peers. I have enjoyed chatting with Erin about the book and hope that it is part of Brendan’s experience when he gets to grade 8 too!