S.E. Hinton was my favorite Superhero

A few days ago Karen asked if I would be interested in going to a book club at Story & Song.

“Sure.” I answered, without even asking which book they’d chosen.

“Well, check out the title before we commit.” she said. “It’s not one I’ve heard of.”

I took the flyer from her hand, scrolled down the page and jumped out of my seat scaring Webster, her corgie, half to death.

“Are you kidding me? I love this book – I’ve read it at least seven times.” I think I was actually jumping up and down. Karen laughed as I talked a hundred words a minute about how much I loved the book and what it meant to me.

It was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

I got that book at a book fair when I was in fifth grade and read it in a couple of days. I bawled my eyes out and read it again. I had a small crush on Sodapop, Two-Bit, Dallas, and Johnny and a major one on Ponyboy when I was eleven years old.

I hurt for Darry and I cheered for Ponyboy and I loved how sweet and honest he was. But more than that – I loved the story. I loved the words on the page.

When I found out that the author was a woman – a girl of fifteen actually – when she wrote The Outsiders I was floored. And I had to read it again.

I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.

We went to the bookstore the next day and picked up our copies.

I wondered what it would be like, reading it for the eighth time thirty six years later. I was worried that it might not hit me the same way it had years ago.

But I wasn’t disappointed.

When I got to the scene where Ponyboy is talking to Randy, the Soc, after the fire but before the rumble I felt the same exact way I did the first time I read it. When he realizes that where you’re from or what your situation is doesn’t make you who you are…

I fell in love with the words on the page all over again.


  1. Mandy, this book never failed to hook my middle school English/literature/reading classes! All levels–boys and girls alike.

  2. Never felt the movie did the book justice. Don’t misunderstand, the movie was great in its own right and the “up and coming” actors (oh, how young they were) did a fabulous job, the book had more depth than the movie could produce… or maybe my mind set such high standards at the time, the vision I had just didn’t compare.

  3. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders was not one my English teacher encouraged (1975). That just made everyone all the more eager to get hold of a copy. It got passed around and everyone read it! It is kind of like the Harry Potter books in a conservative Christian school (banned by the school so every kid had to read it)!

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