This was actually the first time I read S.E. Hinton’s realistic fiction book. When I was younger, I had read a book called the Downsiders and thought it had something to do with this book. I was wrong. This book is about Ponyboy (yes, that is his real name) and his friends–they are “greasers” and looked down upon by the “Socs” (high society kids). Ponyboy and his friend Johnny get in some big trouble after a rumble with some Socs and the book follows them through running away, a church fire which made them heroes, and the effect that their hard life had on them.
As I was reading this, I instantly thought of it as a mix between the movie, Grease, and the musical, West Side Story. That is the main issue of the book–different groups of kids who misunderstand or have prejudices against each other and how they have to life with it or find a way to overcome it. Hinton does a good job making it realistic fiction because she alludes to popular slang and terms, as well as fads such as the Beatles. This probably came very easy to Hinton as she was only 17 when the book was published.
Whether or not she meant it, Hinton had a motif of eyes. Every character’s description focuses on their eyes and then is reflected in their personality and actions. I love eye motifs and think she did it very well. She based the book on an issue between two gangs at her school and she wanted to explore it from the side of the “greasers.” Again, I think she does a well enough job with this as Ponyboy begins to see things differently after he meets Cherry and as Johnny reveals his own feelings.
But, besides those two aspects, I felt this was a very dry book. The events didn’t seem to flow well enough into one another–it felt like different episodes and it was very easy to tell where an episode would end. I do believe that young teenage boys in middle school would enjoy this book, especially because of all the “rumbles” throughout.