Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Outsiders

Last night, I finished reading The Outsiders.

I had never read this American classic, but while listening to my daughter's middle school English teacher speak of the upcoming school year, he mentioned they would be reading this one as a class, using it as a model for analysis and for crafting their own characters. With it being the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, I thought I'd hop on board. (Cue eyerolls from daughter. :) )

Initial thoughts:

It takes no time at all for the action to grab the reader in this novel. Almost at once, you are thrust into the midst of an intense gang rivalry. While the writing style often struck me as dated (lots of long, introductory character descriptions, some cheesyness), the conflict and characters keep you turning the page. Plus, I enjoyed some of the dated qualities of the book -- the style of talk, the glimpse into the time period, a less-dramatic telling of a dramatic saga that can stand on its own...

Themes and longevity:

I see now that this novel is timeless. We are certainly living in a time marked by divisions in our country -- divisions politically, racially, ideologically... And the "us and them" conflicts that drive the entire novel are themes that will likely always exist. Because of that, this book will continue to have a long shelf life as we seek to understand those who are different from us, those who live "on the other side of the tracks," who look, speak, and dress differently.

"Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way
you could tell the other guy was human too."


In addition to the novel's timeless themes, it just has darn good characters. They are flawed but completely lovable...every one of 'em. You root for them all, for they are honest and ornery, but loyal and tough. They seek to do better but also to defend what they know. You finish the novel and they stay with you. In fact, the other day, my friend Antoinette and I were discussing the novel, which she read almost 30 years ago, and she said, "Oh, I loved Ponyboy." I get it!

So, in spite of being an older, dated book, this one is sticking with me. It is an American classic and will continue to be so, and I'm looking forward to discussing it with Abby!

And, can I just say, I cannot wait to watch the movie. :) What a cast (of heartthrobs from my youth :) )!

Happy Thursday,


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