The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was hands down the best book I was forced to read in school. School districts have a tendency to pick perpetually boring books but The Outsiders is INTENSE. I distinctly remember reading it in 8th grade. Since it was 8th grade, English was only 40 minutes long and we would read one chapter each day. This was HORRIBLE because I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, so I ended up stealing a classroom copy to bring home (Don’t worry, I returned the stolen copy, and Mrs. Cray, if you’re reading this, I’M SORRY I READ AHEAD!).
The Outsiders may be 50 years old (it’s actually celebrating it’s anniversary this year!) but the story is still relevant. Ponyboy and Johnny are in an Oklahoma gang, The Greasers, which is a rival gang to the Social. When a Social member is killed, Ponyboy and Johnny go into hiding. This is a thrilling read by a young author (she was only 15 when she started writing and 18 when it was published!) who really understands her audience.
While The Outsiders might not be based on true events, the book overlaps the first and last line in such a way that gives it the illusion that it’s Ponyboy’s true story. As a middle schooler reading this book, I did a double take wondering if it really happened.
If you’re a fan of The Outsiders like I am, then you NEED to try One Cut by Eve Porinchak. One Cut is based on a true story. I repeat, the crime in this one is REAL. Everything you love about The Outsiders, the thrill, violence, and cautionary tale, also rings true in One Cut with the added horrifying bonus of having actually happened. Just read the summary, if it doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. And lucky for you, we’re featuring an extended excerpt of One Cut on Riveted until July 17th!
A backyard brawl turned media circus filled with gang accusations turns a small, quiet town upside down in this second book in the new Simon True series.
On May 22, 1995 at 7 p.m. sixteen-year-old Jimmy Farris and seventeen-year-old Mike McLoren were working out outside Mike’s backyard fort. Four boys hopped the fence, and a fight broke out inside the dark fort made of two-by-four planks and tarps. Within minutes, both Mike and Jimmy had been stabbed. Jimmy died a short time later.
While neighbors knew that the fort was a local hangout where drugs were available, the prosecution depicted the four defendants as gang members, and the crime as gang related. The accusations created a media circus, and added fuel to the growing belief that this affluent, safe, all-white neighborhood was in danger of a full-blown gang war. Four boys stood trial. All four boys faced life sentences. Why? Because of California’s Felony Murder Rule. The law states that “a death is considered first degree murder when it is commissioned during one of the following felonies: Arson, Rape, Carjacking, Robbery, Burglary, Mayhem, Kidnapping.” In other words, if you—or somebody you are with—intends to commit a felony, and somebody accidentally dies in the process, all parties can be tried and convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole, even if nobody had any intention of committing a murder.
What really happened that day? Was it a case of robbery gone wrong? Gang activity? Or was it something else?