The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton

The novel is the story of a traumatic time in the life of a recently orphaned fourteen-year-old boy named Ponyboy Curtis. He lives on the East Side, a member of the lower class and a gang of "greasers." Quiet and dreamy, Ponyboy has conflicts with his older brother and guardian, Darrel, who keeps the family together. The greasers—whom Ponyboy distinguishes from "hoods"—are the heroes of the tale. Set against them are the upper-class socials, or Socs, who enjoy drinking, driving nice cars, and beating up greasers. The circumstances of this social situation result in the death of three teens. The story explores the themes of class conflict, affection, brotherly love, and coming of age in a way that young people readily appreciate. This novel's portrayal of disaffected youth has been criticized for its violent content, but it is now regarded as a classic of juvenile literature. It can be considered one of the first examples of the "young adult" genre, and after its publication literature for teens gained a new realism, depth, and respect for its audience.