There’s a reason I couldn’t put “Back From the Dead” in the title – the author that I’m about to talk about is still living.
Many of us have read works like, The Outsiders, That Was Then This is Now, Rumblefish, and Tex, but have any of you taken a second look at the author?
Let me refresh your memory.
S. E. Hinton – legally Susan Eloise Hinton – never had notions of becoming an author. Growing up in the south at the height of the Civil Rights movement, she saw the side of adolescent life that many adults ignored. Being a tomboy by nature, it was easy for her to make friends with the boys. So much so, at fifteen, she completed her first draft of The Outsiders, and only intended for her friends to read it. When one of the moms took a look at it, she insisted upon sending it to a friend, “who happened to be a literary agent), in New York. By age 18, S. E. Hinton was a published author, something many of us strive to do and struggle along the way until we finally convince someone that our treatment is worth reading.
I first read The Outsiders at age 12, and let me just say, it blew . . . my . . . mind. Never before had characters been so real I felt like they were the same boys I ate dinner with at night. Never before had I grieved for a character so much as when Johnny died (sorry for those of you who hate spoilers and haven’t read it yet). Never before had I been so inspired to become a writer. I read her author blurb on the back cover and learned how old she was when the book was published, and from there set my own goals.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get my first book deal at 18, or even 19. No, that day came when I was 25. I still find it incredibly inspiring that a woman could write so convincingly from a male perspective, and in such a way that it doesn’t matter what sort of background you come from – you know these boys, and you root for them every time. They are more than just the underdogs, they are more than just misfits, they are the driving spirit inside of each and every one of us, pushing up to be who we were meant to be.
So if you haven’t read any of Hinton’s books, pick one up! The rock you’ve been living under will thank you. What I wouldn’t give to hear what Nathaniel Hawthorne would say after reading one of Hinton’s novels. Sentimental fiction? My eye! Take that dead, male-chauvinist authors! Don’t be afraid to let the girl power light shine on you.