Off the Shelf: The Anniversary of the Young Adult Classic "the Outsiders"

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on April 26, 2017 from Off the Shelf via

April 24, 1967 marked an important date in YA literature.  It is the date of the first publication of “The Outsiders” by SE Hinton.  The genre had been around for a while then, but this book about the reality of high school life hit a nerve.  Now fifty years later, a special edition has been published with additional material, interviews, pictures, and details about the movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
SE Hinton wrote the book at sixteen and it was published when the author was a freshman at the University of Tulsa. The real shock was that SE stood for Susan Eloise; her initials were used because the story is about teen age boys and the publisher felt this would reach more readers.  She wrote it while she was a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its realistic depiction of the Greasers and the Socs made it a world-wide success.
Now the book has more than eight million copies in print and is the best-selling young adult novel of all time.  SE Hinton in an interview on Book Riot stated that “The Outsiders sold better last year than it ever has, so the readers still identify with it very strongly.  Of course, there will always be the In Group and the Out Group, even though the names change.  But the intensity of the feelings at that age – the awareness of injustices, the emotional responses, I felt like that at sixteen, and the readers realize they are not alone in that.”
The resulting publicity and pressure produced writer’s block for three years until she wrote, “That Was Then, This is Now,” “Rumblefish” and “Tex.”  “The Outsiders” was made into a motion picture in 1983  starring up-and-coming stars, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise.
The American Library Association and School Library Journal bestowed upon her their first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors authors whose "book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives."
The Young Adult genre is tremendously popular now; it ranges from realistic books such as “Thirteen Reason Why” and “The Fault in Our Stars” to fantasy such as “The Hunger Games” and “Throne of Glass.”  Amazon has a list of 100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime that offers readers a place to start or get caught up with this genre.

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