Banned Book Week Spotlight: The Outsiders
Since next week is Banned Book Week, I decided to post about a book that is not only one of my favorite banned books, but my favorite teen fiction book as well. The book is about two rival gangs, The Greasers and The Socs (short for Socials) and the story is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old Greaser named Ponyboy Curtis. First published in 1967, the book is considered a classic coming-of-age story.
According to the American Library Association site, The Outsiders was number thirty-eight on the 100 most frequently banned books from 1990-1999 because it features violence, underage smoking and drinking, and profanity. Since then, the book has rarely met resistance because it has been incorporated into middle school and high school curriculums.
I read The Outsiders for the first time when I was in seventh grade, listening to an audio book and following along in a school copy of the book. I remember when my teacher told us what we were going to be reading, somebody thought it would be about aliens.
When we first started reading it, I remember connecting to Ponyboy as soon as I heard the words, “And nobody in our gang digs books and movies the way I do. For a while, I thought I was the only person in the world that did.” Those words described how I was starting to feel in middle school. That feeling would really start to sting once I started high school.
The Outsiders became one of those books I turned to for comfort, to know that I wasn’t alone. During my junior year of high school, the book would be significant for two other special reasons. The first reason had to do with a reality check. The second reason had to do with what came from it.
At the time, I was going through my second year of bullying. I hated my bullies so much, I didn’t even consider them human. One day though, I saw with my own eyes one of the lessons from The Outsiders: Things are rough all over. It turned out that my bullies were just as insecure as I was… that they were just as human as I was. With this realization came resolve, inspiration, and the beginning of a dream.
Like Ponyboy, I wanted to tell my side of how it felt to be an outsider, to tell how far people will go to make that pain go away. And so, I decided to become a teen fiction author and someday write a book that will have the same impact The Outsiders had on me. Today, whenever I get a writer’s block or I feel frustrated about writing, I reread The Outsiders and remember why I want to write in the first place.
Here are some more facts about The Outsiders that I find cool:
1. The author, S.E. Hinton, first started The Outsiders when she was 15 (info taken from the Speak edition of the book)
2. The book was made into a movie in 1983 after a school class sent the movie director (Francis Ford Coppola) a letter saying they wanted the book to be made into a movie by him (info taken from IMDB)