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Book Review: Rebeldes (The Outsiders) by S.E. Hinton (5/5)

29 Aug

The Outsiders is one of my all time favorite novels. I never had to read it for school, but I picked it up on my own and I fell in love with Poneyboy, Soda, Darry, Dally, Johnny, Two-Bit, and everyone else. For Christmas last year, I asked my husband to get me a book in Spanish so I could do my annual Spanish read and he very thoughtfully got me a translation of my favorite greaser story.


Cover image via Amazon

Rebeldes (The Outsiders) by S.E. Hinton

Other books by Hinton reviewed on this blog:

Hawkes Harbor
Some of Tim’s Stories

Summary from Amazon:

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

It’s probably been ten years since I read this book so I went in with a little bit of memory loss. I’ve also seen the movie more recently so that version was in the back of my head, too. I enjoy this story every time. There are a few defining moments that I anticipate and then I’m sad or excited when they happen, even when I know what’s coming. To me, this story is almost perfect. Revisiting it in a Spanish translation was so fun.

I love Hinton’s greasers and socs. She makes an effort to show that no one is one dimensional. Cherry and Randy have depth to them that Pony might not have guessed and we see the depth of the greaser characters. They seem a little simplistic because of the young first person narrator, but she’s created some wonderful characters in this book.

Dally is my favorite character, and I have to tribute some of that to Matt Dillon. I don’t know if I understood Dally’s character fully when I read the book the first time. The way Dillon plays him in the movie helped him jump off the page to me. He’s a much more complex character than I gave him credit for the first time. The ways he helps Johnny break my heart now that I recognize them better.

The fact that the characters are so relatable is part of what makes this story so amazing. I’m not a greaser or a soc and I’m not in high school any more, but I can empathize with a lot of what the gang was going through. I’ve had to see people beyond the way they look and how much money they have. I’ve been surprised by people for doing things I never should have doubted them capable of. Few things are black and white but we’re usually surprised at the number of shades of grey.


S.E. Hinton Image via The Oakland Press

It may sound dark, but the time while Johnny is in the hospital is my favorite part of the book. The gang comes together and I find it very touching. There is a lot of raw emotion and these tough-looking boys have real feelings that are difficult for them to share. The Curtis boys come together in a beautiful way and show a lot of compassion for each other. I absolutely love it.

There isn’t much about this book I dislike. Hinton kept it brief so nothing stuck out to me as unnecessary or redundant. Every once in a while, there would be small details I kind of ignored, like how much the Curtis boys love eggs, but those didn’t distract from the story but they’re the only thing I can think of that I didn’t love.

Unconscious bias awareness is a huge part of how our society is evolving right now. We’ve become aware that there are things we don’t know or understand about how our brain works and they can affect people negatively. Once we’re aware of this and can act to mitigate it, we might be ready to start becoming a more just society. This isn’t a new concept and Hinton is exploring it in her novel. The greasers hate the socs for being socs and vice versa. They have to look past appearances and get beyond their differences to understand the humanity in the other group.

Writer’s Takeaway: Hinton was very young when she wrote this novel and it works in her favor. Her young voice is shared with Pony. Her phrasing and way of expressing things is in line with the young narrator we have. It shouldn’t be a detriment to a young writer that they’re young. She learned how to tell a story and share her feelings and experiences and it worked out wonderfully. We shouldn’t feel we need to hide our voices inside a character.

This book has stood the test of time for a reason. It’s absolutely wonderful. Five out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1960-1979 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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