Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.***********The Outsiders is a book about sensitive teenage boys who alternately get into gang fights, hug one another, and burst into tears. They also spend more time than you might expect ruminating on how the tightness of a t-shirt might enhance the rippling musculature of a steely-eyed fellow gang member (this is where Stephanie Meyer got the idea for how to characterize Edward). Even though they're always complimenting each other's hair and doing gymnastics, it's not gay at all because it takes place in 1965, shortly after James Dean had made crying and homoerotic tension cool.This is the kind of book that teachers like to assign to 7th graders (or dumb high schoolers) because it offers up a lot of THEMES about how EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT BUT STILL THE SAME, and teachers feel pretty safe giving a quiz on that because even the stupidest kid can figure it out, as every few paragraphs the narrator will just go ahead and state it outright, like this: "Even though we're Greasers and they're Socs, I guess in the end, we all look at the same sunset." (Sample essay question: What did Ponyboy mean when he said that everyone looked at the same sunset? And all you have to do to get it right is repeat the first half of the sentence.)As a narrator, Ponyboy kept reminding me of Holden Caulfied, if Holden was poor and actually managed to do anything interesting with his evenings. But maybe that just has to do with the time period and the fact that they both say stuff like "I was just about bawling my eyes out, to tell you the truth" every few pages, except Ponyboy is doing it because his best friend knifed someone and then died of a broken back and being on fire, and Holden is just sad because his roommate smells bad (oh and I guess his brother got cancer and died pffffft). I do think they would get along if they ever met, and maybe make out a little bit.I love the last few sentences of every chapter, where SE Hinton trots out her corniest stuff. Chapter 7: "Socs were just guys after all. Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too." Chapter 8: "'Thanks, Ponyboy.' She smiled through her tears. 'You dig okay.' She had green eyes. I went on, walking home slowly." Oh and it doesn't come at the end of a chapter but: "Not even the rattling of the train could keep me awake, and I went to sleep in a hoodlum's jacket, with a gun lying next to my hand." There's also the best deathbed speech in all of teen literature (probably), which goes like this: "INTERPRETS THEMATICALLY RELEVANT POEM" (DIES).So somehow I never read this in middle school, and when I read it now, I just end up giggling at half of the overwrought emotion (which happened with Catcher in the Rye too, but there I'm going to assume Salinger was writing on multiple levels, because he was a competent adult, whereas The Outsiders was written by someone Holden's age). But it's still a pretty awesome book.EDITED to add that this Penguin edition makes the book seem really classy, which is nice, but Jodi Picoult's introduction is kind of a joke. She basically asked her 14-year-old son to write a book report and quoted excerpts.Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 6: Favorite young adult book.