Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was sixteen when she started writing her first novel. The Outsiders was published in 1967 by Viking. The Outsiders received a lot of attention and gained her almost instant fame. After a three year battle with writer's block, she finally started writing a new story. And in 1970, she got married. That Was Then, This is Now was published the following year.
Rumble Fish was published in 1975 and was the book Hinton was most proud of as literature. Four years later, Tex was published in 1979. Tex would be the last book S.E. Hinton published for nine years.
Four years after Tex was released, quite a few major events took place in S.E. Hinton's life. In March of 1983, the movie The Outsiders was released. The following August, Nicholas David,her son, was born. Two months later the movie Rumble Fish was released.
In 1985 the movie version of That Was Then, This Is Now was released. Three years later S.E. Hinton became the first person to receive the YASD/SLJ Author Achievement Award. Taming The Star Runner was released in October of that year. It was the first book that S.E. Hinton had published that wasn't in first person.
In 1995, Big David, Little David was published. It was written for children around the kindergarten age. The Puppy Sister, also published that year, was a fantasy book written for Elementary school level children.
Her latest two books are Hawks Harbor, her first non-teen or kid book, and Tim's Stories, a collection of stories with intertwining characters.
The Outsiders is set in 1965 Tulsa, Oklahoma; although neither of those fact are stated explicitly in the novel. It is the coming of age story of Ponyboy Curtis who is fourteen when the novel begins. He is a greaser, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Someone without much money who runs around with a gang and fights with the Socs, the rich kids. Sometime before the novel starts, Ponyboy's parent are killed in a car accident and he and his brothers are left alone. Darry, the oldest at 20, is raising Sodapop, who's sixteen, and Pony. Soda has dropped out of school and started working to help Darry with the bills.
There is an underlining fear that the two youngest brothers' could be taken away by the state if there's too much trouble, so the brothers' are careful to stay out of the worst of the trouble in the neighborhood. Of course, trouble finds Ponyboy and that's most of the plot of the book.
Ponyboy is not like the other greasers. He is very smart and sensitive. Great things are expected of him and Darry puts a lot of pressure on Pony to do well in school so he can go to college. Darry gave up his college dreams to raise his brothers and he wants Pony to get the chance he had to forfeit. This means Pony has to do his best to get a scholarship, because they couldn't afford it otherwise. The rich/poor dichotomy is very evident in the novel. The gap between the haves and have nots is large and the social antagonizing is displayed throughout the book. Pony is about the only character to realize that things are rough all over, that people have problems no matter where they are, that there isn't too much difference between soc and greaser.
The novel also deals with some tough issues. There's the social lines that can't really be crossed. There's the violence, Pony is jumped in the first pages of the book and makes reference to the fact that Johnny had been jumped really bad awhile ago. Then there's the fight at the fountain and the shooting. Then running away from family and police. Child abuse, underage pregnancy, dropouts, skipped classes, robbery, jail are all topics that come up in the novel. It's no wonder that teachers love to use this as a reading assignment there's so much touched on in such a small book.
This book has probably stayed on the classics list for two main reasons. Teens can relate to the characters and themes; and Teachers can teach the book and add a multitude of topics to their discussions that can be related to the novel.
Tomorrow, I start really reading the book. So expect in depth summaries and criticism. Until then, adieu.