by S.E. Hinton
Set in Tulsa in the '60s, this young adult novel tells of the fights between the greasers and the wealthier Soc kids. Ponyboy Curtis, a greaser raised by his older brother, gets caught up in a fight that ends with a Soc stabbed to death. He and Johnny, the scared greaser who did it, go on the run, but return after saving some children from a church fire. When Johnny dies, pressure builds on Ponyboy and Dallas, his wild friend.
I think I first read this in, maybe, seventh grade – decades ago. It’s got a few stilted bits of narration that sound corny or misplaced, but hell, Hinton wrote this when she was sixteen. Given that, this is an incredible piece of work, harrowing and seeming all too real. Ponyboy’s introspective narration is amazingly effective, weighty with emotion.