Word by Word

Creating myself one word at a time.


My daughter is now a freshman in high school and over the summer wasTheOutsiders asked to read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for AP English class. This was a book I read in eighth grade and it left an impression on me. So, I decided to revisit some of the books from my past as part of Throwback Thursday.

I’ve been asking myself why did the The Outsiders leave such an impression on me.

It was written by a woman. Although the author’s name didn’t give this away in the beginning, we learned that S.E. Hinton was in fact a woman…who wrote about boys in a gang. That fact fascinated me. How many men had written about women? Or women who wrote about women? But this was a woman who wrote about boys.

It was about poverty. This may not have been completely apparent to me in eighth grade, but as I was rereading passages with my daughter it struck me how Hinton was writing about issues we still struggle with today. Boys raised in socio-economic situations that lead to violence, gangs and anger.

“Some one should tell their side of the story, and maybe people wouldn’t be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore.”

It was YA before YA was popular. I’d read other books meant for youth, but none that took on the issues we were actually facing. You know, feeling like you weren’t part of the in-crowd. Feeling like all the adults were against you.

But, above all else, I think this book stuck with me because it gave me the chance to step outside my comfortable life. It did what all books should do, it helped me imagine the life and struggles of those who lived in different situations than I did, and yet made me realized that as humans we all want the same things.

Did you read The Outsiders in school? Did it leave an impression? What books did?

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