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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  The Outsiders

Author:  S.E. Hinton

ISBN:  9780140385724

Publisher: Puffin Books

Copyright date: 1997

Plot Summary

Ponyboy is the younger of the Curtis brothers, all members of the gang the Greasers whose rival are the Socs, short for Socials, they’re the rich kids who like to cause trouble.   When Ponyboy comes out a movie theater and is jumped by a group of Socs, his two brothers Darrel and Sodapop along with a few other Greasers, save him.  When the next night Ponyboy and a couple friends run into two of the Soc’s girlfriends it sets off a series of events that no one quite recovers from.

When Bob, on of the Soc’s is killed the rivalry escalates Ponyboy and Johnny hide out for a few days in a church.  When the church catches on fire, the boys attempt to rescue the orphans trapped inside.  Though the boys are called heroes, Johnny back gets broken when a beam from the church falls on him; he dies a few days later.

The real struggle of the book is Ponyboy’s desire for a life beyond the Greasers and the book ends with his writing an essay for his English class about the clashes between the Greasers and the Socs.

Critical Evaluation

The Outsiders is a violent depiction of gang violence in the 1960’s where being from the other side of the tracks was enough to label you as not good enough.   Hinton’s writing is superb and she creates characters that despite their violent nature, you truly feel for them and understand their actions.

Reader’s Annotation

The Greasers and the Socs are rival games in the middle of a violent turf war, will Ponyboy be able to escape with his life or will he be another casualty of war?

Who Should Read It

The Outsiders deals with the differences in the socioeconomic lives of teenagers in the 1950’s and how they dealt with their issues.

Why I Read It

A classic coming of age novel, almost every one of my male friends read as a teenager.

Author Biography

S. E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was still a teenager, publishing it in 1967, when she was just 18-years old.  In addition to her young adult novels, Hinton has written for both children and adults.  Four of her five young adult novels have been turned into feature films.

Genre

*Coming of Age

*Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Booktalking Ideas

*Why do you think Ponyboy tried to convince himself that he was the one that killed Bob?

*Knowing Ponyboy’s character, do you think he made a life for himself away from the Greasers?

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

*Gang Violence

*Alcohol

*Language

The Outsiders

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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author:  Stephen Chbosky

ISBN: 1451696191

Publisher: MTV Books

Copyright date: 2010

 

Plot Summary

Charlie is an awkward freshman with a handful of friends when he comes into contact with Sam and Patrick, two seniors with an eclectic group of friends.  Charlie is shy and prone to depression, but his new friends help him find a way to express himself and give him an outlet for his emotions, one of which is through finding music that speaks to him.  Another of Charlie’s allies is his English teacher who sees his quiet brilliance and gives him extra attention.  When Charlie’s emotions in dealing with the death of his Aunt Helen as well as the ending of the school year, and therefor his friends’ graduations get the better of him he backs into himself and once again finds he can’t quite cope and he finds himself once again in a mental hospital.

 

As Charlie gets a it better and he re-emerges into his social group, he finds that he can continue on.

 

Critical Evaluation

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written in letter form and the reader doesn’t ever find out who Charlie is writing to.  What I found to be so lovely about the letters is that it feels as though he is speaking to you, you’re not finding out about a character through the narrator, but rather, Charlie is telling you how he feels about situations and certain people, which I found to be so intimate. 

 

Chbosky does a wonderful job of catching the inconsistency of teens as well as the rollercoaster of emotions that they go through on a daily basis.  The tone of the book is set by both how Charlie is feeling on that particular day, but also by the references to music, which Chbosky uses to express how, the characters are feeling.  For instance, whenever they mention the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, I immediately heard the song in my head as I read along.

 

Reader’s Annotation

Charlie is a freshman learning how to deal with the trappings of high school cliques, girls, and family drama, if only he was a little less awkward.  When two seniors take him under their wing Charlie’s world opens up and he begins to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

 

Who Should Read It

Anyone who felt a bit out of place in social situations and can understand the awkwardness of high school.  I would recommend this book to both teens and adults for those who need a bit of a push and for those who remember what it felt like to be on the edges of the high school crowd.

 

Why I Read It

I had come across the book several times but never picked it up, it wasn’t until I started seeing it on multiple booklists did I realize it is a must read.

 

Author Biography

Stephen Chbosky was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from USC’s screenwriting program.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was Chbosky’s first novel, published in 1999, though he has written quite a few screenplays, including the movie version of the musical Rent. The movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower was both written and directed by Chbosky and it was released in 2007.

 

Genre

*Coming of age

 

Curriculum Ties

N/A

 

Booktalking Ideas

*Why was the purpose of music and literature in the book?

*How did you feel when Charlie let Patrick kiss him?  Was that being a good friend, why or why not?

 

Reading Level/Interest Age

14+

 

Challenge Issues

*Drugs

*Sex

The Perks of Being a Wallflower