According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.
The book, although set in the late 50's, tells the struggles of two distinct groups - the Socs and the Greasers - told through the eyes of Ponyboy, as he writes a story detailing devastating events that have previously occurred.
The characters in both groups are judged by their peers on looks and social stature. The Greasers are thought of as the criminals, the bad boys to stay away from. The Socs have the money, the cars, and the girls. They are the "good guys", right? But as Ponyboy's story unfolds, we learn that everyone has secrets and sometimes peer pressure and life out-ways what a person knows is right. In one night, a cruel twist of fate will lead Ponyboy and his friend Johnny to learn that life is precious and to "Stay Gold".
This story was eventually made into a movie - which was freaking awesome! and introduced us to, well, some of the most gorgeous and famous bad boys at the time - but even without seeing the movie, it is still one of the BEST books ever written. The poem written in its pages, I can still recite by heart. It is as beautiful and meaningful today, as it was when The Outsiders was released.
About the Author
Her other works include Rumble Fish, That Was Then, This is Now, and Tex.