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For Young Readers by Lindsey and Paige Oliver
The Outsiders helps teens find direction
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    As children make the slow and often agonizing journey to adulthood, loneliness, confusion, and a fervent search for one’s identity can often make for a tumultuous few years. Adolescents wonder whether there is any end in sight to  this time in their life, and, more importantly, if anyone truly understands them. For approximately four decades, “The Outsiders” has answered both questions with a resounding “yes”, helping teens of all ages find direction and hope in a world which can often seem all too bleak.
    Ponyboy Curtis’s world consists of two divided groups of people: the “Socs”, wealthy, privileged, and cruel due to boredom and a loathing for those of a lower class, and the “Greasers”, roughneck boys who have raised and protected him all his life. Youngest in a family of three brothers, Ponyboy is proud to be a Greaser and lives for the day he can join the six members in the local gang, though his interests are more scholarly than theirs. At fourteen, he knows a great deal regarding the world’s cruelties, and while he can be slightly bitter over the constraints of his social status, his life is generally pleasant and at times carefree. However, one night, as he and a friend are attacked by a group of Socs, a terrible mistake brings the world crashing down around him, and a chain of events destroys more than one life he values.
    Not surprisingly, “The Outsiders’” main strength lies in characterization. S.E. Hinton’s ability to create diverse, lovable and believable individuals in the midst of gut-wrenching drama is a gift that makes her work genuinely engaging. Between dreamy Ponyboy, introspective Johnny, and angry, delinquent Dallas, readers will surely find a plethora of characters with which they can identify. This novel is the perfect transition for preteens who want a more serious story than most young adult fiction books offer, but aren’t quite ready for the mature themes seen in “The Catcher in the Rye” and other classic portrayals of teenage angst. The only obvious drawback in “The Outsiders” is the slang contained within; while not offensive by any stretch of imagination, some teens may find terms used in the 1960s to be a bit dated, which, in a novel that depends on readers ability to identify with the protagonist, may prove important in the overall effect of the text. All in all, however, S.E. Hinton’s novel is a gritty, drama-filled spot of brilliance perfect for current and soon-to-be teens.
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