Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

My First Serious Read

S. E. Hinton (1948- present) wrote the first book that I read that felt serious. I had read other books that dealt with kidnapping and orphans, escape plots and evil, but the first book that I remember feeling real was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (1967). She wrote the book when she was in high school.


The book is a coming of age story of Ponyboy, a member of the Greasers gang. The rival gang is the Socials, and they have some violent altercations. One of these altercations ends with his friend Johnny stabbing a Social to save Ponyboy’s life. The two end up on the run and hide out in an abandoned church in the country. I won’t tell you the end in case you haven’t read it yet.

I grew up in your typical safe suburban lifestyle. Though we moved quite a bit, I never had to contend with gangs and violence. This book portrayed a life that was completely different from anything I had known. I can say that this was one of the first books to make me cry, and even the movie (1983), which was sort of cheesy, made me cry. 🙂

S.E. Hinton also wrote That was Then, This is Now (1971), which is a wonderful, and serious book that I highly recommend.  Again, this book brought things to life that I had never known. Drug addiction and violence just weren’t part of my young life. I consider myself one of the lucky. This was also made into a movie in 1985, though I don’t remember seeing it. Other books by S.E. Hinton are Rumble Fish (1975), Tex (1979), Taming the Star Runner (1988).

She has also written a couple children’s books – Big David, Little David (1995) and The Puppy Sister (1995) – as well as two books for adult – Hawkes Harbor (2004) and Some of Tim’s Stories (2007).

She has received the 1988 Margaret A. Edwards award from the American YA librarians for her first four novels. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame in 1998, and was awarded the “Best Novel” by the New York Times in 2012.

S.E. Hinton is a very private person and there is not a lot of information available about her life. A classic reclusive author, perhaps? 🙂

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