Book Review – The Outsiders

“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold . . .”

At the end of the school year, a student said to me, “Stay gold, Mrs. Barnes. Stay gold.” I said, “Okay.” Now, I know this is a reference to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Yes, I taught middle school English for years. No, I hadn’t read the book before this month in 2022. Being a former English teacher, there are certain books that people assume you have read. This was one of them. However, because I am an English teacher, I tend to have some knowledge about the overall plot of many books.

As I read the book, I knew a lot of the plot. As the plot unfolded, I quickly understood why Hinton’s book stood the test of time.

Many schools have a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer now. Lately, I have noticed a language shift. The role is being changed to diversity, equity, and belonging. It makes sense. You can be included but feel out of place like you don’t belong.

The Outsiders perfectly addressed the bonds of friendship, true family, and the need to belong.

Hinton began writing the book when she was 15 and finished it when she was 16. Honestly, we need more teenagers writing books and telling stories from their eyes. Many stories published today with teenage main characters are written by middle aged adults. Yes, once upon a time they were teenagers. However, it is different when you are writing about the teenage experience when you are still a teenager.

A bonus for me was the inclusion of Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” It is one of my favorite poems. Hinton used it wisely within the plot.

If you haven’t read it, it is an easy read. You could, if you wanted, read it in one day.

One final note, get the version I purchased above. The bonus material includes a discussion guide that teachers can use, and there are questions Hinton answered in various interviews at the back of the book.

Rating: 5/5

Suggested Grades7-12
Guided Reading LevelZ
Accelerated Reader Level4.7

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