My English teacher assigned "The Outsiders" to my junior high school class.
Between 1989-1991, I attended John F. Kennedy Junior High (now the updated Middle School on its marquee) also known as 'Jail For Kids' to local students. This was no fanciful insult. We had fights every day, school police for the larger brawls, a systemic bullying problem that the administration ignored, and we seemed to possess more 'oddball' and 'unstable' teachers than what our peers from other schools knew.
I was small, bookish, Asthmatic, skinny, wore large glasses, was bullied daily, and definitely disliked by many schoolmates (& a few teachers) because I didn't speak as others did, behave as others did, had different hobbies/interests, or dressed differently from my peer group.
My family library had an old edition hardcover of the book so I didn't have to buy what I thought at the time was the 'awful paperback' my classmates had to purchase.
|1967 Vikings 1st Ed.|
The other kids constantly ribbed me because they thought my 1960s edition 'looked weird', but, the more I read the story, and watched the film in class, the more I learned about alienation.
The struggles of real teens, class issues, youth delinquency, violence, the need to belong. I felt all that from S. E. Hinton's novel and more potently because of my 'weird' 1967 first-edition hardcover.
Yet, it was in those moments while reading, watching the film in-class and holding that book in my hands. The newer paperback edition my classmates preferred seemed too pretty, far too glossy, like an upcoming movie poster. Not as gritty and dispelling as my edition. I felt more alone but steadfast in my convictions. The 1967 cover felt more akin to the story's heart.
The film adaptation was as harrowing and gave credence as well as respect to the brilliant novel. My oldest niece preferred J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, but I preferred and felt that S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders spoke more to me as a pre-teen of the late 80s.
"Stay golden [everybody]! Stay golden!"***
***The Outsiders readers/film watchers will get the reference!