Sunday, July 27, 2014

Soup, by Robert Newton Peck

The “Soup” books are Robert Newton Peck’s fictionalized memoirs about his childhood in rural Vermont.  Mr. Peck narrates the stories from his childhood perspective, and most of the stories involve the trouble that his best friend dreams up.  There doesn’t seem like there’s much to do out in the country, but Rob and Soup put their imaginations to good use.  Usually, they end up in hot water as a result!

“Soup” is more of a collection of short stories than an actual novel, unlike some of the sequels that follow it.  It was interesting to read about how kids lived in the 1930s, and how they faced some of the same challenges that today’s kids do.  Some of the stories deal with topics like lying, stealing, and smoking.  I’d be willing to bet that even boys who’ve never been to a farm could identify with most of the situations that Rob and Soup find themselves in.

When I first read this book, I had no idea that it was a memoir.  As it turns out, though, there actually was a troublesome boy named Soup, and he grew up to become a minister!  I guess it’s true what they say, you never can tell how some people will turn out.  But on that subject, have you ever given any thought to what you’d like to do when you’re older?  Do you ever enjoy thinking about your friends, and trying to guess what they might grow up to become? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

This is the story of Ponyboy Curtis, a tough kid with even tougher friends.  After Ponyboy’s parents die, he struggles to get along with his brothers, Sodapop and Darrell.  The Curtis boys are considered greasers, because they slick their hair and hang around with other juvenile delinquents.  The greasers in town are constantly fighting with the Socs, rich upper-class kids who seem to get everything they want.  When one of these battles turns deadly, Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny find themselves wanted for questioning, and they decide to run from the law.

One thing you should know about this book is that there is constant violence throughout the story.  The book is very controversial because of that, and it may not be an appropriate choice for younger readers.  Still, I have a lot of respect for the way that the author presents these violent acts.  Violence is simply an everyday part of Ponyboy’s daily life as a fourteen-year-old high school freshman from the wrong side of the tracks.  I think that the author meant to target readers of the same age group, since much of the violence takes place “offscreen” and it’s not overly gory.  Also, even though the characters are tough kids who curse constantly, there were no curse words actually written into the story!

This book is a shockingly realistic look at the pressures that young men face, so I was incredibly surprised to find out that the author is a female!  S.E. Hinton was a teenager when she wrote this book, and it was published by the time she graduated high school.  In an interview, she mentioned that her inspiration came when she realized how other people perceived her “greaser” friends to be juvenile delinquents!  What do you think people might say about your friends at school?  Do you feel like you’re a member of any certain groups or cliques?