Reviewed by Lauren G. (age 11)
The speaker in this book is a 14 year old boy who lives with his brothers. His name is Ponyboy; his brothers are both older than him. Sodapop is 16 and Darry is 20. Their parents both died in a car crash and the brothers are members of a gang. There is Two-bit Matthews, Johnny, and Dally. They are known as the "Greasers" who are the kids that live on the east side. The "Socs" live on the west side. They are rich and they break into stores and "jump" the Greasers for fun. Both sides are enemies. Ponyboy is still in school but Soda (which is his nickname) dropped out and Dally couldn't afford to go to college even with his athletic scholarship.
One night, Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally decide to go watch a movie at the drive-in. There they pick up two Soc Girls. As they walk the Soc girls home, their boyfriends spot them. Later that night as Johnny and Ponyboy are walking through the park, they meet the Soc girls' boyfriends again. There are five of them. One of them dunks Ponyboy in the park fountain. The leader of the Soc group was a boy named Bob. Johnny, who carries a six-inch switchblade after the first time he got jumped, takes it out and kills Bob. Ponyboy and Johnny have to escape to some secret place because they just committed murder. They go to Dally for help because he's tough and would know what to do. Dally was put in jail when he was ten years old. He was used to the hard times and had a mile-long record with the police. he had done everything from jump a little kid to commit murder. Dally gives them a loaded gun and fifty dollars. He tells them to hop a train and get off at Windrixville. There is an old abandoned church up on Jay Hill, and after they buy a week's worth of supplies they can't even look out of the window. From the church, you can see the sunrise, and as they watch it Ponyboy remembers a poem about nothing stay gold. After one week of baloney sandwiches Dally stops by. He has a smoke and then they head over to the Dairy Queen to get something different to eat. Johnny decides he wants to go back and turn himself in rather than live in the old church the rest of his life.
On the way back to the city as they pass by the old church, Dally hollers, "Glory, the church is on fire!" and it is. Dally had probably dropped his cigarette butt on the floor and forgot to put it out. There were people standing all around the church screaming. And faintly, you could hear meek little cries for help coming from inside the burning church. The pre-schoolers were having a picnic and some of them were trapped in the old church when it caught fire. Ponyboy and Johnny raced over to the church, because they knew that they had started it. The door was jammed so they broke a window and climbed in. One by one, they threw the kids out of the window. There were seven in total. Ponyboy scrambled out but his back was on fire, so Dally slapped him on the back. It was a little too hard and Ponyboy fainted. Johnny wasn't as lucky. He had also fainted from the smoke before he could climb out. The roof caved in on him and Dally had to go pull him out. Later in the hospital they found out that Johnny's back had been broken so "if" he lived he would be a cripple.
Back at home Ponyboy find out there is going to be a rumble all because Johnny who was killed was known all over the place. The Greasers win the rumble and then Ponyboy and Dally race over to the hospital to see Johnny. When they got there, the doctor told them that Johnny was dying. Before Johnny died he told Ponyboy to stay gold. Johnny was referring to the time when Ponyboy recited the poem in the church. When he died Dally went crazy and ran away. Then Ponyboy realized that the only thing Dally had ever loved was Johnny and now he was gone.
I liked this book because it was interesting. It can be very sad at some parts or happy at others. It has a lot of action and everything is understandable. There are parts with a lot of suspense and some parts with a lot of emotion. The author, S.E. Hinton, makes it so that you have to finish reading before you can put your book down.
I recommend this book because it has a good story about friendship and family. I hope that there will be a sequel and then I wouldn't feel so bad about finishing the first one. I think that when Johnny told Ponyboy to stay gold, he meant that Ponyboy should always stay young like a tree because when you get used to life, it's not gold anymore. Johnny wanted Ponyboy to stay young instead of growing up too fast like Dally. It is better to stay young and explore things than to grow up too fast and miss out on things.