Despite his recent string of misfires and lackluster efforts, Robert
S.E Hinton’s “The Outsiders” has sold more than ten million copies and remains the backbone of middle and high-school reading lists. In addition to “The Outsiders”, Hinton has gone on to write several more books for young adults. She has been a pioneer in the genre since its publication in 1967, paving the way for authors like John Green and J.K. Rowling. “The Outsiders” has managed to be an all-time favorite across generations. Here’s why:
1. When Hinton published her début novel, “The Outsiders,” in 1967, there was no such thing as the young-adult market. Even well into its selling, the book, which was issued by the Viking Press in hardcover and then by Dell in softcover, were both adult trade imprints.
2. While “The Outsiders” was being shamefully being sold as a drugstore paperback, her publisher saw that teachers were using it as learning material in their classes. Enter: a separate market for young adults. And the Y.A. was born!
3. Hinton wrote the book when she was only 17, and it was published when she was just 18. This is an amazing feat for a high schooler; what’s more, she wrote it because she saw a gap in literature that was aimed for people her age prompting her to singlehandedly fill in that gap.
4. Because women authors were taken less seriously in their profession than males, Hinton decided that her name was best shortened to “S.E.” Hinton. Had she not done this, the possibility of the book being an instant flop, even among teachers, was quite real.
5. Now you’re wondering her real name…Susan Eloise. You’re welcome.
6. “The Outsiders” stunned readers with its blunt portrayals of teenagers smoking, drinking, and rumbling. The reason for such shock was, even though “Rebel Without a Cause” and “West Side Story” dealt with the same issues, they were geared for adult audiences. Leaving “The Outsiders” a book for teenagers, about teenagers, and written by a teenager.
7. The theme of the book produces an honest depiction of warfare between the social classes and deals with issues that are common in an adolescent’s life. At such a young age, though it was a simple observation, Hinton’s book has managed to give voice to the timeless subject of social injustice, the evolution of the family relationships, and the justification of life. For the first time, “The Outsiders” dramatically opened up the dialog about relatable experiences for teen readers everywhere.
8. When the book was made into a movie by the same name, Pony Boy & Co. are the original bad boy crushes of 7th and 8th grade girls that hadn’t been won over by the book itself, thus having a serious influence on women’s (questionable) choices in men.
9. Speaking of “The Outsiders” movie, the story’s influence carried on with an insanely talented swoon-worthy cast consisting of C. Thomas Howell (As heartthrob Ponyboy), Matt Dillon (90210), Ralph Macchio (a.k.a. The Karate Kid), Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing – Baby’s bad boy), Rob Lowe (Yes, really), Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club), and Tom Cruise (OMG what?!). Not to mention Diane Lane as Cherry.