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Stay Gold, Pony Boy

Jenny reminisces about her first literary love, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.

Stay Gold, Pony Boy

BOOK REPORT for The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

BFF Charm: Yay! Yay! Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Coolio, Pops
Bonus Factor: THE OUTSIDERS!
Relationship Status: First Love

The Deal:

Who doesn't know this story, you guys? Right? Or was I the only girl whose 12-year old life was changed by this book? See, before discovering The Outsiders, I had read every single book in the Black Stallion, The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes and The Scarlet Pimpernel series', as well as The Call of the Wild and Ladd, a Dog... you get the picture. Then I got my hands on this book. From the opening lines...

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home ...

I fell in love with sensitive, sweet Pony Boy Curtis and his band of Greasers. (This story is about Greasers- kids from the wrong side of the tracks- and Socs- or 'socialites', the wealthy kids, back when there was a middle class, y'all.) So I joined Pony Boy in running from the Socs, pleaded with Darry- Pony Boy's eldest brother who had been taking care of Pony Boy, and the adorable and affable middle brother Soda Pop since their parents died in a car crash- not to be mad at Pony for getting cornered by the Socs. I met Cherry and Marcia at the drive-in- two Soc girls who maybe weren't so bad- and was embarrassed by Dally, the hoodlumest of us all, when he harassed them. I laughed with Two Bit and Steve, and cried with Johnny. Oh Johnny Cakes, I wanted to protect you from your alcoholic father and the Soc with the ring that gave you that scar- I felt really bad about this, but secretly thought the scar was cool. I wanted to be there to help keep things from getting out of hand. And I really, really wanted to go on the run with you guys.

BFF Charm: Yay! Yay! Yay!

I wanted to be BFFs with all of the boys, although also, depending on the day, either had a crush on Pony Boy, Soda Pop or Johnny. But never Dally. I didn't give him my charm, either, because, hard knocks or not, that boy was trouble. I even wanted to be BFF's with Darry. He was only a few years older than Pony and Soda, and he just didn't want the state to take them away from him, that's why he was so hard on them. And I really liked Cherry, too. I could picture myself being her liaison as she spied for the Greasers. Or being her friend if I had been a Soc. And maybe we could have been the first Soc girls with Greaser boyfriends.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

So apart from Pony's quiet feelings for Cherry, this story is more of a bromance, but the BOYS! If you read this book and didn't crush on at least one of them....

Talky Talk: Coolio, Pops

So S.E. Hinton wrote this when she was fifteen, so I think it's fair to say she accurately portrayed the voice of the youth. I loved this book so much, I reread it countless times, and then went on to read all of her other books, and then began to branch out beyond mystery and animal stories, so thanks, Ms. Hinton. It was only a few years ago that I found out that schools give this book to the 'troubled' kids, so the smart ones don't necessarily read it. Too bad for them, and I never thought I'd say this, but yay for homeschooling, because I spent one day a week at the library, perusing the shelves, and happened upon this little gem by accident. Rereading it now, I can say that I was just as swept up in the story, and my memories of it, as ever.

Bonus Factor: THE OUTSIDERS!

Here's an example of a movie version of a book that is almost as good as the book. And this movie came out before any of these guys were anybody! It was like the movie that predicted ALL of the hot actors of the 80's! Look at Patrick Swayze! Emilio! Tommy Howell! Tom Cruise, before he went all crazy! I loved this movie nearly as much as I loved the book, and watched it over and over- at my friend's house, because no way would my mom allow it! Who could have predicted Matt Dillon's comedic timing? Rob Lowe's future troubles? And Ralph Macchio! (The one crush I'm embarrassed to admit. Sorry Ralph.)

Relationship Status: First Love

This book was my first. I had read children's books, even regular adult Lit, but this book was YA. We really, truly fell in love with each other, and it opened so many reading doors for me. It was the book that inspired me to start writing myself. Of course as I got older I outgrew it, like you do, but I will always, ALWAYS hold it sacred.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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