I saw a post today that November 1st is the 50th anniversary of The Outsiders release. I’ve heard conflicting opinions on this book and seen the phrase “Stay Gold, Ponyboy” abused in a number of ways. But let me say that I love this book. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Outsiders was assigned reading in Mrs. Cox’s 7th grade Language Arts class. While I had always been a lover of books and reading, this was the first book that ever gave me heartfail. I was in anguish over the deaths of Johnny and Dally. My heart broke for Ponyboy as he tried to find his way through the miasma of loss and grief.
My original copy with a broken binding from overuse is still on my bookshelf. It traveled with me to college, to my first apartment, and to my first home. I still think about the story at random times, but what I remember most was that this book made me feel in a way no other book had before. It showed me the power of a story and inspired me to write.
I can recite lines from the story and know Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” poem by heart. I think my enduring love for this book has a lot to do with who I was when I read it. I was in a transitional phase (literally in the place between elementary and high school), and this story left an indelible mark on me.
Johnny’s last words were, “Stay gold, Ponyboy,” and it’s because of this book that I always will.