Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ponyboy, Whoever You Are, I Hate You

Crisis Part One: On Monday, the 12-year-old remembers/discovers (we’re never quite sure with him) that he’s got a massive packet of papers to complete (for today(!)) on his English class’ recent reading of S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders.”

Crisis Part Two: We’re pretty sure we own the book. Good thing, since the teacher won’t let school copies of the book go home in order to complete this assignment. Except it’s not on the shelf. A quick scouring of the shelves in the study and the shelves in the kids’ rooms (we could insulate our house with the paperback books we own) reveals nothing S.E. Hinton-related. No problem, it’s a perennial favorite at our local thrift stores. So off we go . . .

Crisis Part Three: It’s not at the Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store. And the other local thrifts are closed. As is the local used book store (out of business, due to exceptionally high prices). They do have a copy at Barnes and Noble (inexplicably filed in “New Teen Fiction”). Good news, though: I find a copy of Theodore White’s “The Making of the President 1960, adding yet another to my collection of Richard Milhous Nixon-connected books, which causes much eye-rolling on the part of my wife. I pass up a hardbound biography of Gerald Ford, however.

Crisis Part Four: The copy Barnes and Noble has is a 50th Anniversary edition. Of course. Which probably explains why it’s in “New Teen Fiction,” I suppose.  That also explains why it costs $10; one dollar more than we can buy the ebook. Because the publishers know this is a perennial favorite among high school English teachers and why not profit from that?

Crisis Averted: We make an appeal to the Internet and of course find so many study guides and helps and hints on the book that (as far as I know) the homework packet is completed and we have enough time to do dishes and send everyone to bed. Good thing I didn’t need/want an evening.

Confession: I’m pretty sure I’ve never read the book. Nor have I seen the movie. I know vaguely it’s about gangs, I think, and includes someone named Ponyboy. Lest ye think me uncultured in the way of must-reads in high school, I am versed in the works of Robert Cormier. Though I’m not sure that’s something to brag about.

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