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Monday, July 18, 2016

A Book that Stays Gold

In my last blog post, I linked my Sweet Sixteener bio, and I hinted that my next blog topic was in that post.  Did you read it?  Did you guess?

I'm currently gearing up to be a Pitch Wars mentor, and I'll be talking quite a bit about that in the upcoming months.  It sparked reflection on my favorite middle grade novels (some border YA).  I'm going to start with a couple from my youth and then move into some more contemporary options. I already talked about my love for Little House, so next up has to The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

I cannot begin to express the level of freakishness that I achieved in my love for this book.  I mentioned it in my bio post on the Sweet Sixteens, but I lost count of how many times I read it, at least twenty one summer alone.  I really did put Vaseline in my hair in my effort to pretend I was a the long lost Curtis sister.  I went to camp that summer, and people thought I was a total nut job because I wouldn't put the book down (I'm sure they were right). 

If the internet had existed, I have no doubt I would have discovered fanfiction and fan communities more than twenty-five years sooner than I eventually did. 

What was it about that book?  

Who knows why we connect so deeply to some stories, movies, T.V. shows, music, etc. more than others?  Thank goodness for choices that allow us to all find our escapes in different ways.

Ultimately, though, I think there are three things that made The Outsiders so powerful to me.

1. The world-building. No, it's not Narnia.  Tulsa is real.  The era is real.  It's that a great story kidnapped me and held me captive even in a place decidedly different from my midwest, middle class, lifestyle. I entered a world of rebellion and youth at a time when I was just beginning to exert independence.  

2. Theme of injustice. I have a love/hate relationship with this theme.  If it goes to far, I get mad and I'll stop reading. This story was more revelatory than anything.  It demonstrated how socio-economics impacts both general groups of people as well as specific individuals.  It was an early and powerful lesson for me about privilege, and Cherry Valence, and identifiable character who taught me about the diffic
ulties of speaking out about injustice.

3. Emotional explosion. Media use theories teach us that one immense value of popular culture is the ability to experience emotions in guilt free environments.  What a roller coaster this story was, with two major character deaths, hints of love, family struggles, anger, and ultimately a journey to catharsis. 

My most-read, beloved favorite childhood book.  I'll be talking about more favorites, but I'm curious.
What book have you read the most?