This November, our guest will be S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, That Was Then, This is Now, Tex, Rumble Fish, and Taming the Star Runner.
In 1967, a new voice entered the world of children’s publishing. It was the tough, unfiltered, empathetic, and frank voice of Ponyboy Curtis, the main character in Hinton’s ground-breaking and genre-creating novel, The Outsiders. Fourteen-year-old Ponyboy lives with his big brothers, Sodapop and Darry. They are orphans, and Darry has set aside his dreams of college in order to shoulder the responsibilities of providing for his younger brothers. Ponyboy, his brothers, and his friends are greasers. They grow their hair long, wear leather jackets, drive old souped-up cars, and rove in gangs. They also clash – often very violently - with the Socs, the upper-class teens from the West-side who seem to have it all. When the violence results in a death, Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, must go on the run or face the judgement of a system that is already stacked against them.
Hinton’s characters navigate confusing, turbulent, bleak, intense, and often unfair worlds that were previously unheard of in children’s literature. The raw truths of Hinton’s novels ushered in a new category of children’s literature – Young Adult fiction. In 1988, she was the recipient of the American Library Association’s first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, an award that honors authors whose books “have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.”
It’s important to add that while gritty, Hinton’s books also carry with them messages of understanding, acceptance, choice, family, forgiveness, strength, and hope. They are both heartbreaking and illuminating, desolate and thought-provoking, frightening and beautiful.
In addition to her YA books, Hinton also has a chapter book for younger readers called The Puppy Sister, and a picture book called Big David, Little David.