My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautiful story told in a tone of sweet innocence, about that idyllic time in life where nothing ever happens but everything changes forever, that last summer before discovering the harshness of the adult world you’re about to fend for yourself in.
In a perfect example of showing-not-telling, S.E. Hinton uses vivid imagery to portray the world as Tex sees it, allowing us to learn its truths with him. About betrayal and hate:
“You hate a lot of people?” I asked him. The word was taking on a whole new definition for me. Like the word “water” would change for somebody drowning.
He shook his head. “Yeah, I know, I’ll understand it some day. That’s what Bob says. I know this much though, some girl isn’t going to make me forget my best friend.”
I didn’t know what to tell him. I reckon only people who have both been snake-bit can tell each other how it feels.
And about death:
“I’m goin’ for a walk and I’ll take the gun with me. I ain’t going to shoot anything, though. I ain’t going to shoot anything ever again.”
Unusually for its time, it contains a strong female character who, if she doesn’t know her own desires, at least knows what she doesn’t want: her insistence that she and Tex won’t work out reminiscent of Sybylla from Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career.
And of course, it’s a snapshot in time from that period just before the cities swallowed up so many of our small towns, just before they became part of the burbs, each one same as the next. Here, in Tex’s world, they’re still communities. People still ride horses, farm smallholdings, and raise chickens.
This is a gorgeous, heartwarming tale about realisations, awakenings, and awareness of others that, like the blurb on the cover says, is ‘even better than The Outsiders’.