S.E. Hinton’s debut novel, The Outsiders, is an inspiring and moving story that tackles issues most teenagers face. And, if you are looking for books like The Outsiders, these novels are the best choices. Our list includes an all-time classic, an award-winning story, and a novel listed seven times in the most challenged books list.
1. The Catcher in the Rye
When searching for books similar to The Outsiders, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is an excellent option. It focuses on Holden Caulfield, a teenager struggling to navigate the complex mental, physical and social issues of a young man on the verge of adulthood. Holden’s number one goal in life is to avoid becoming a “phony” adult, which inspires him to become obsessed with preserving his innocence.
The list of books like The Outsiders includes Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This award-winning novel resonates with anyone who has experienced loneliness, turmoil, and disruption in life at a young age because of divorce.
While en route by airplane to visit his father, Brian Robeson must make a crash landing in a lake near the woodlands of Canada. Will his hatchet become a tool of suicide? Will his mother’s gift (a hatchet) become a tool of suicide?
If you are an S.E. Hinton fan, you probably know the author’s shortest novel, Rumble Fish. This 1975 book is about an alcoholic parent, a mother who abandoned her family, and reckless teenage behavior. It is also about two old friends, now from very different walks of life, that meet and look back on the troubled days of their youth.
4. That Was Then, This Is Now
Imagine the pain of losing both parents in a drunken brawl. That’s what prompted Mark Jennings to live with his best friend’s family in the novel That Was Then, This Is Now.
Jennings and his pal live as foster brothers throughout their teenage years. When one of the boys reports the other to the police for selling drugs, their relationship takes a dramatic turn. Is it right to rat out a friend? That’s the question Bryon Douglas must answer for himself.
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
Contemporary British novelist Mark Haddon provides an “outsider’s” view of the world in The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime. A 15-year-old boy with savant-like characteristics is a brilliant mathematician but struggles with behavioral issues.
He discovers a dead dog that has been stabbed with garden shears. However, things go from bad to worse when he tells the dog’s owner. She reports the incident to the police, who then arrest the boy and accuse him of killing the animal. Life becomes even more tumultuous when the boy discovers who killed the dog.
6. The Chocolate War
Inside a boy’s locker is a sign that reads, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” The locker belongs to Jerry, who is tired of the disruption and turmoil caused by a secret society known as “The Virgil.” Jerry decides to take matters into his own hands by refusing to comply with the gang’s orders. His refusal leads to a chain of unfolding events that wind up making Jerry think it is better to leave the universe alone.
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky also share the same themes as The Outsiders.
The story is told in epistolary style, meaning it is written in the form of a collection of letters, in this case, letters that the main character, Charlie, has written to a non-existent person. From homosexuality, incest to pedophilia, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is so highly conversational that it has been on The American Library Association’s Challenged Books list seven times!
8. Eleanor & Park
In her first young adult novel, Rainbow Rowell tells of two misfits living in Nebraska in the 1980s. Eleanor is a high school sophomore who lives with her mother, four siblings, and an abusive stepfather. She’s often bullied at school. Park comes from a loving home but is insecure about his Asian heritage and small stature. A friendship grows into something more, at least, at first, for Park, after he saves Eleanor from a bully at school. Soon, he will save her from more than that.
9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time India
Author Sherman Alexie writes about a young boy called “Junior.” He beat the odds after surviving a brain injury at birth. Now, he wants nothing more than to leave his Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior figures he can become a rich and famous cartoonist. When he attends high school off the Reservation, his peers and the Indian community see him as a traitor. The more exposure Junior has to a new environment, the more clearly he understands the problems that plague his people, including alcoholism, hopelessness, and lack of tolerance. Is there a way to realize his dreams without denying his native heritage?
10. Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska is one of the best books like The Outsiders. This John Green book is about Miles “Pudge” Halter who is tired of his uneventful life. After reading the last words of a famous poet, he resolves to make a change, which leads him to a boarding school wrought with adventure, chaos, and strife, and a girl, Alaska, with whom Miles becomes deeply infatuated. Then comes the life-changing event by which Miles will forever measure his past, present, and future.
Stories That Are Great Assets to Any Book Collection
Books like The Outsiders and other coming-of-age novels often evoke deep emotion and inspire thoughtful discussions among readers. Whether a particular story is reminiscent or vastly different from one’s own life experience, the characters and plotline remind us that each person’s journey is unique and somehow mysteriously interwoven.
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