Portia's Pick this Week:
THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton
School books are boring. I'll say it again. The books you read in school are usually about 90% pretty sleep-inducing! In my humble opinion. You start with Island of the Blue Dolphins in 5 grade.......moving to Tuck Everlasting in 6 grade, and The Pearl in 7 grade................Now, I'm not saying that all books are bad. The Skin I'm In was really quite nice! But I've always wondered if it was just the books they picked that were boring......(Oh why can't we read Harry Potter!!) or if it was just the way we dissected every little line that ruined it...(Can anyone tell me what the author means when she refers to the red house on the corner. Does it stand for her sense of independence? Or perhaps anger?) I mean, give me a break! I appreciate reading with different attitudes other than "I'm reading because it's interesting," but this hidden meaning grates on you after a while.
Last year, towards the end of 7th grade, we were given a choice of about 8 books that we could read in groups of 4. In our groups, we would do various work with conflicts in the book. I chose The Outsiders. I guess I could have gone with Catherine Called Birdy or The Sign of the Chrysanthemum, but I chose the gang book. And prayed it wouldn't be like....others..I've read. I was very surprised.
I started reading The Outsiders by assigned chapters at first. But then I really got into it. I went home and read and spent all class just reading--mastering the art of holding a book open under your desk and looking up at opportune moments. Being the sap that I am, when I got to the last few chapters, I got a bit emotional. I remember sitting in my chair in English, with a tissue clutched in my hand, just about bawling with tears dripping down my face. The person unnamed sitting across from me stared at me in disbelief and said pretty rudely, "Are you CRYING!!?!!?!?!? Whatchooo crying for? This book isn't sad at all! Geeez. Drama rama! I can't believe you're crying!!!" Oh well. This book makes you cry. That's just a fact of life.
I really liked this book. This was one of those books I like that really make you think about life. Liesl is a very beach read girl. She likes a lot of books, but chicky ones are her favorite, I think. I appreciate a beach read, but I like books that make me momentarily depressed--surprisingly. Ones that make me look at my life and think, "My problems aren't that bad," or "I should appreciate my friends more," or "What if.........[fill in the blank]" The Outsiders really made me look at my relationships with my siblings and friends and think about what kind of bonds I have with them. Looking at Ponyboy's relationships with his brothers and the back stories made me appreciate my family so much more.
S.E. Hinton described the characters with such clarity.....you felt you really knew them. And of course, you pick your favorites. Bad boy Dallas, shy Johnny, funny Two-Bit, light-hearted Soda, and adult Darry..... I think this book makes you look at loyalty differently. The author took friendships and city gang rivalries and made you think they weren't that bad. You were rooting for Ponyboy all along. Greasers vs. Socs.......You would never think about gangs like that. You look at thugs like real people and you see the truth behind why they are the way they are. I think that's something we could all use. Even though it's written in the 1960s....(not so long ago!!), this book is still able to be appreciated.
It's a school book, and I can actually see why. If an author wants to know what kind of books I like, The Outsiders is a good example. I like the way it was written, I like the dialogue, the ability to understand the characters better than they understand each other, the idea of a story with sibling relationships and friends. A book that makes you think about life.
On this date: In 1959, the Guggenheim museum opens in NYC.