YA firsts – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The_OutsidersAfter working with my girls on homework and essay questions relating to this book, I was finally able to sit down and read it myself.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but I was left wondering why the Ontario school boards are using it in their Grade 7 curriculum.  I see the age link – we’re seeing this story unfold through the eyes of a 14 year old – I see the “us” and “them” or the “inside” and “outside” group roles…  But I have to wonder whether kids, at least those not living in areas of high crime and gangs – can really relate to the book?  So I asked the experts in the household – and their answer was – “We had to read it for school”.  They both enjoyed the movie and were able to discuss differences between the movie and the book – but that was the extent of it.

To me – the topic was a bit dated –  look at the year it was first published – 1967.  Can today’s young adults truly identify with this story?  I’m not convinced.

It was an easy read and a pleasure to follow.  I read it in one sitting so it kept my attention.  But I would look at my environment more closely before recommending it.

I was lucky to read a copy that included a section titled “speaking with S.E. Hinton” at the end of the book.  Having never read any other works from this author I was quite shocked to learn that S.E. Hinton was “Susan Eloise” Hinton.  Learning about the inspiration of this book, when she wrote it and why she chose to use initials rather than her real name was enlightening.  It allowed me to peak into this author’s life a bit and gave me a greater appreciation for the book and respect for this author.

Hinton, S.E. (2003).  The Outsiders. Toronto, ON:  Penguin Books Canada Ltd.

Author’s Website:  http://www.sehinton.com/


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