Fifty years ago this spring, the best selling young adult novel of all time was published to adulation and outrage.
This was 1967, so youth culture was not exactly new, but something about the plain, emotional voice of The Outsiders did away with the grownups’ interference and spoke directly to teen readers in a new way. The aura surrounding the classic tale of warring adolescent cliques from opposite sides of the tracks is enhanced by the fact that the author was herself a teenager.
We are not, by the way, talking about some urbane 19-year-old groomed for the elite cultural circles of Manhattan. S. E. Hinton was an Oklahoma high school student when she completed the manuscript she was then calling A Different Sunset. Her contract from Viking Press actually arrived the day she graduated from Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School. Because she wasn’t yet 21, her mother had to sign too.
The Outsiders—which still sells half a million copies every year—forever changed the way books are written for young readers.
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by S.E. Hinton
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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…