Critical Insights: The Outsiders Review

“This installment in the Critical Insights series from Salem Press examines The Outsiders, the 1967 novel by S. E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton. The book begins with three essays that contextualize the novel. These are followed by a Critical Contexts section that contains four essays: “Lawyer Up, Ponyboy: Reconciling Delinquency Outcomes in S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders with Trends in Modern Juvenile Justice”; “Critical Reception: The Outsiders”; “’You greasers have a different set of values’: Othering, Violence, and the Promise of Reconciliation in S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders”; and “’Things Are Rough All Over’” Indeed: Suffering and Salvation in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.” As can be gleaned from the essay titles, the material is appropriate for a college-level course. The essay on othering, for example, utilizes the theories of Jacques Derrida as analytical tools. The next section, Critical Readings, examines the novel in ten essays. One is a compendium of Hinton’s interview answers on a variety of topics, such as her childhood and parents, her character creation and focus on male characters, and her high school experiences. Readers will find discussions of identity and authenticity, YA novels and the fraternal lens, binaries, hierarchy, and privilege, and The Outsiders as Kunstlerroman, among other things. The kunstlerroman essay draws comparisons between Hinton’s character Ponyboy Curtis and Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. All essays conclude with works cited. The book closes with a Resources section that has a chronology, a list of Hinton’s works, a bibliography, and an index. The wealth of material in this volume of Critical Insights will give readers not only an increased appreciation for The Outsiders but also several ideas on how to further research and analyze the material in what is considered by many as the first YA novel. Recommended for academic libraries.”
—ARBA Staff Reviewer