Archive | 8:42 AM

Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton (4/5)

2 Jan

My final book of the 2013 Reading Challenge successfully complete! I saw that S.E. Hinton’s short stories had been put together in a collection and added it to my list. I was extatic when I found a copy in a resale shop down the street and grabbed it. What a wonderful find.

Cover Image via

Cover Image via

Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton

Most people recognize S.E. Hinton’s name from The Outsiders but haven’t read her other books. With my fangirl personality, I read all of her YA novels when I was in high school and am proud to own three of them. I think she does a wonderful job of portraying the disadvantaged and explaining that we’re all following our lot in life and some were dealt a bad hand. There’s only so much we can do with what we have.

These short stories follow cousins Terry and Mike whose fathers pass away when they are young. Both boys grow up without a strong male role model and mothers weakened by loss. They’ve turned to some illegal activities to make ends meat when Terry is arrested, leaving Mike alone to fight his way through the myriad of relationships left behind.

I liked that this story jumped forward and backward in time while revealing how Mike dealt with Terry’s absence. The story of what happened to land Terry in jail comes later in the book and reveals why Mike holds so much guilt in his heart. Terry is a very minor character in the story’s action, but his presence and memory drive all of Mike’s motivations.

Like many of Hinton’s books, this one deals with those who are just getting by, the edge of society and those who don’t have a better future to look forward to. When Terry and Mike decided to get involved in illegal activities, they don’t see another option for themselves. It’s the only way they can see for the world to be just and give them the money they work so hard to earn. Mike’s ideas that the universe will pay him back for what he’s done continue well after Terry’s in jail. He tells himself that he cannot be happy in a relationship and drives away a woman who loves him. When misfortune befalls him and he’s injured at work, he sees it as punishment for how he’s acted before. When Terry returns, Mike finally realizes that he didn’t need to punish himself and that Terry’s not all the way gone. He’s finally able to respect himself a little more and move on with his life.

The copy I read was half interviews with Hinton and I loved reading these. She talked frequently about her relationships with the actors from The Outsiders movie and what it was like to be a part of the film making process. Her answers were always terse, much like her prose which always gets right to the point. It felt to me like it made her prose even more genuine because it felt like she had become her own characters, sharing in their speaking mannerisms.

What I like about Hinton is that she shows that criminals are not always bad people. Her characters frequently steal, sell drugs, and carry guns but that doesn’t define who they are. She shows us that we can sympathize with criminals once we know their motivations. One of the themes in my novel is that there is no black and white, only shades of grey and I think that Hinton likes to show this in her stories as well. Maybe I should count her among my influences.

Writer’s Takeaway: I have addressed before that I’m interested in what makes a work a collection of short stores instead of a novel. Many times it’s the same characters, which is the case in this collection as well. I think the even more prominent connection is the theme of redemption. Terry is redeemed when he emerges from jail much the same person as when he left. Tim is redeemed when he can prove to himself that he can love. He loves Mike and his aunt and when he knows that, he can love others as well. It’s a pity it takes so long for him to figure this out.

Overall, I prefer her novels, but this was a great quick read. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, Reader, write on.