I became a greaser late in life last year when I decided it was high time for me to read the novel that spawned a million "Stay Gold's". What I discovered was a reason to cherish your friends. Why blood is only one form of family. An incredible brotherhood shown with such vulnerability my heart could hardly stand it. An Adorable protagonist named Ponyboy who only wanted to live with his Brothers, Darry and Sodapop, and keep his clouds and books and dreams. He takes pride in being a greaser. In being 'tuff' but kind and loyal.
When I first read The Outsiders, I remember being amazed that S. E. Hinton didn't shy away from the violence that often accompany's prejudice. Especially surprised at the rawness of this shown from the perspectives of teenagers in the early 60s. I couldn't believe how much the Soc's hated the Greasers, seemingly just for existing. But I love how no matter what the cost, the Greasers always protected each other. On the bright side, Hinton brings the narrative full circle by exposing the desperation on both sides to be respected and loved. I appreciated her portrayal of masculinity that is vulnerable and strong all at once.
Dallas Winston...now this is a man I can dream about all day. He's that guy, that 'bad boy' type that even Cherry admits she could fall for if left to their own devices for too long. The fluff aside, his is a story that actually did take my breath away with it's ominous beauty. He's a ticking time bomb. Yet has just enough love in his heart to do whatever it takes to stop Johnny from walking the same path. He is tragic, and courageous, and as much as he tries to play cold, he loves hard. Hinton, through Dallas Winston, shows the true heart of every person in our lives we thought plunged head first down the wrong side of the tracks. Through him, I'm reminded that rough exteriors often shield beautiful hearts.
The boys of The Outsiders represent all of us: the dreamer, the flirt, the warrior, the bashful one, the parental figure...and most importantly, the part of us that will always feel a little distant from the norm. It's my Banned Books week pick because it's a beautiful short novel that reminds us to stay gold in a world where everything goes dark and cynical.