Book Review: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders is a book my school assigned me to read earlier in September, so I thought I would review it after finishing it. It follows the perspective of Ponyboy, a 14-year-old boy part of a gang of poorer families on the East side of town known as greasers. The greasers have a rivalry with the West side of town kids, known as the Socs, which is short for socials. The Socs are rich and have nice cars and clothes, which is one of the reasons the greasers despise them. Early in the book, Ponyboy is jumped and beat up by the Socs, and readers are exposed to the violent nature of both groups through jumpings, memories, and fights between the two groups of people, who seem to be polar opposites. Ponyboy is friends with a gang of greasers consisting of his brothers, Sodapop and Darry Curtis, and his friends, Two-Bit Mathews, Dally Winston, Johnny Cade, and Steve Randal. Throughout the book, Ponyboy and the gang get into heaps of trouble, relying on each other for help in the darkest moments of the book. One of these relationships is seen between Johnny and Ponyboy, who have always been best friends and support each other throughout the book. As the plot unfolds and both greasers and Socs are injured or killed, Ponyboy begins to realize the two groups might not be as different as everyone thinks.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but The Outsiders is a very good book. It has emotional moments that impact the characters’ lives in very detailed ways, a very good plot that is easy to follow, and really likeable and dislikeable characters, which makes the book, in a way, feel very alive and real. What makes it so intriguing is that this book is based on real-life events from when the author, S.E. Hinton, was a high schooler in the 90s. In fact, the book was written by her at the age of 15! It makes you wonder how such a good book can come from someone only a year older than me. The Outsiders is full of deep meanings behind everything, and without giving too much away, is pretty sad. The whole idea of two social groups, one poor and one rich, both thinking they are right and the other side is in the wrong, is really interesting and is explored thoroughly by Ponyboy throughout the book.

While it does mention some inappropriate topics for kids 12 and under, such as underage smoking, gang violence, characters from broken homes, and death, I think it should be suitable for anyone 13 or older. For anyone who is looking for a deeper book that still has a great story and characters, I would definitely recommend The Outsiders. That’s all for this review, so I hope you enjoyed it. Happy or reading!

-Brandt D.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

AP Lang Bible Assignment

bookstack2I decided to write a blog on this topic because I found it surprising and interesting that I would be required to read the Bible for AP summer work. I grew up listening to stories from the Bible and have grown accustomed to hearing my pastor speak about random passages, but I never knew how the dialect of the Bible and the famous stories have translated themselves in many ways into works of literature.

As a pre-AP Lang student, I am responsible for reading the entire chapter of Genesis from the Bible and creating an alphabetized dictionary full of important people, events, and places. I must also read the entire gospel of Luke and retell fifteen of the most significant parables stating their significance. A parable is a short story that has a purpose and moral/lesson.

I’m sure many of you incoming AP Lang students have this odd homework assignment along with me. At first, I was surprised that a public high school would incorporate religion into the Common Core assignments, but my previous English teacher explained to us that we must familiarize ourselves with the biblical stories in order to better understand the allusions referencing subjects such as the Garden of Eden or the historic “Christ” character in many novels. Regardless of the assignment, I’m fascinated by the different approach I have to the Bible now. No longer am I just a Christian reading the Bible, but now I am a “college” student analyzing the stories and parables.

If you too find this AP Lang assignment interesting, feel free to leave a comment expressing your opinion on the work, not the religion 🙂

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

Book Review: Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

robinson_crusoeThis book is super awesome. I had to read this book for a school assignment so I automatically thought that it would be boring. But I was in for a big surprise! Its a little slow at first but once you get into it, it gets really exciting.

Young Robinson Crusoe doesn’t want to live the life of his father, a church clergy, so he decides to run away. As he embarks on his journey to wherever life takes him, Robinson’s ship gets devastated by a huge storm. He makes out alive along with the others but is stuck on a small harbor for some time.He later receives help from a Portuguese captain who soon becomes one of his greatest friends. Things seem to go well for Robinson until he is caught and enslaved. In his bondage, Robinson devises a plan to escape and free himself from slavery.

We all know what the book Robinson Crusoe is famous for, right? Well, a short while later, Robinson faces his greatest challenge yet. He goes on another ship where he yet encounters another storm, except that this one actually destroys the ship. He is stranded on an island which he barely manages to come to. With no food or provisions, Robinson Crusoe must fight nature and himself. He comes across many “friends” of both animal and human. But also encounters enemies– the cannibals that rule the island.

Will he survive? Will he ever get off this wretched island? To find that out, you are just going to have to read the book. I hope it gives you the same impression that it gave to me. Enjoy!

-Christina B., 7th grade