Last Updated on April 22, 2023 by Louisa
Are you craving a timeless coming-of-age story with a hint of suspense? The Outsiders is one of those books that many of us had read in school, and it still carries a bit of nostalgia whenever it’s brought up.
And if you haven’t read it, well, it’s definitely one that’s worth picking up.
Written by S.E. Hinton when she was only 16 years old, anyone can relate to this book in one way or another.
The problems discussed transcend time and are relevant to today’s teens and young adults.
This is the type of book that covers real issues for teens and makes you feel like you are not alone.
If you’re in the mood for a book with relatable characters, real problems, and a bit of drama and grit, then you’ll love these other books similar to The Outsiders.
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Summary of The Outsiders (No Spoilers!)
The Outsiders follows Ponyboy Curtis, a 14-year-old boy, and his battles with right and wrong in a world where he feels he is an outsider.
According to Ponyboy, the world is divided into two types of people: greasers and socs.
A soc (short for “social”) has money, and can get away with almost anything. A greaser, on the other hand, is always on the outside and must keep an eye on his back.
Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even if it means going toe-to-toe with a gang of socs for the benefit of his fellow greasers.
Ponyboy and his gang’s hardships and friendships are explored throughout the novel as they live their lives as greasers.
Written through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy, it’s a novel that’s easy to digest no matter who the reader is.
It’s a coming-of-age story, covering themes of friendship, hardships, and overcoming challenges.
Acclaimed Books Similar to The Outsiders
If you know anything about S.E. Hinton’s iconic novel, then you have some idea of what these books will have in store for you.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, then read on to find out the best-acclaimed books like The Outsiders.
1. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
Holden Caulfield was just expelled from yet another school for failing most of his classes. After a disagreement with his roommate, Holden leaves Pencey Prep and finds himself in New York City.
Holden’s perspective on the world and its people develops as he seeks comfort in fleeting interactions.
He moves around the city like a ghost, always thinking about his little sister Phoebe, and his ambition to escape the phonies (adults) and have a meaningful life.
Much like The Outsiders, The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age narrative that captures the primal human urge for connection as well as the mystifying sense of loss we experience as we grow from children to adults.
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2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a socially awkward teen who is constantly on the sidelines of life. That is until he meets two charismatic students, free-spirited Sam, and her stepbrother Patrick.
Caught between attempting to live his life and trying to escape it, Charlie finds himself on an unusual path across the unexplored territory.
Sam and Patrick assist Charlie in discovering the delights of friendship, first love, and music. However, Charlie’s underlying anguish threatens to ruin his newfound confidence as his new friends prepare to depart for college.
This extremely moving coming-of-age tale depicts what it’s like to be a teenager in high school.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows Charlie as he navigates the realms of adolescence and maturity, attempting to deal with deep questions and inner turmoil prompted by his interactions with both his friends and family.
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3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old boy who lives with his father, Ed, and sees the world a bit differently.
Though he can name all the world’s countries and capitals, as well as every prime number up to 7,057, he has very little comprehension of human emotions.
One day, Christopher discovers the dead body of Wellington, the neighbor’s dog, and begins to look into the dog’s death.
Despite his father’s repeated cautions, Christopher examines the crime site and interviews the residents of his street.
During his investigation, he uncovers a more complicated conspiracy than was initially evident.
This is the story of an eccentric teenage kid who clings to order, copes with family turmoil, and attempts to make sense of the world as he sees it.
On a deeper level, this is a novel about difference, being an outsider, and viewing the world in an unexpected and revealing manner.
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4. Looking for Alaska – John Green
Miles “Pudge” Halter has a thing for famous last words. His entire life has been somewhat of a bore, so he travels to boarding school in search of a “Great Perhaps,” the famous last words of François Rabelais.
There Miles meets Alaska Yong, and his life becomes any but boring. Alaska is unpredictable, wild, self-destructive, and, of course, the focus of Miles’ affection.
The two become extremely close friends, along with Chip “Colonel” Martin, and enjoy many wonderful experiences at Culver Creek Boarding School, with Miles expecting to have his own “Great Perhaps.”
However, when tragedy hits, Miles is forced to confront mortality as he learns the value of living and loving wholeheartedly.
If you’re seeking more modern novels like The Outsiders, Looking for Alaska by John Green should be on your reading list.
This is a coming-of-age story about meaning, loss, hope, and the interactions between adolescents and adults.
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5. The Giver – Lois Lowry
The Giver is widely regarded as one of the most influential novels of our time. The morally charged plot revolves around Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy who lives in a seemingly utopian world of conformity and order.
Every member of the community is allocated a job based on his or her talents and interests at the age of twelve.
Jonas does not fully comprehend the dark, complicated truths behind his frail society until he is assigned his job as the Receiver of Memory—the sole keeper of the community’s collective memory.
Through these memories, Jonas realizes how bland and empty life in the community is. As he learns more about prejudice, diversity, and morals, he grows wiser, more empathetic, and more challenging.
If you’re looking for books similar to The Outsiders, The Giver needs to be on your list.
This is a story of freedom and identity and explores the change from the innocent mind of a child into the questioning and educated mind of an adult.
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6. Holes – Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats carries a curse that has passed down through generations of Yelnats, beginning with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.
After being unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, Stanley spends all day, every day digging holes that are exactly five feet wide and five feet deep.
But there’s more going on at Camp Green Lake than character development. The boys are digging holes because the warden is hunting for something.
What could be concealed beneath the dried-up lake? And what does it all have to do with Stanley?
The story delves into the history of Camp Green Lake and how the acts of many characters in the past have influenced Stanley’s life in the present.
As Stanley searches for the truth, the encounters interconnected stories that touch on issues such as racism, homelessness, illiteracy, and arranged marriage.
If you think this book sounds exciting, you might also like these books like One Of Us Is Lying.
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7. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is a compassionate, dramatic, and timeless story of youth in a quiet Southern town and the moral crisis that rocked it.
If you’re in the mood for novels similar to The Outsiders, then this might be the one for you.
Told from the perspective of Scout, a young girl growing up in the Jim Crow South, the story tells how her father Atticus Finch bravely defends a falsely accused black man in a racist court, and the events that follow.
To Kill a Mockingbird was written at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and right after the McCarthy era.
It’s a story that takes readers to the roots of human behavior and explores themes of racism, prejudice, innocence, justice, and good versus evil.
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8. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
George and Lenny are an odd pair. George is “small and quick and dark of face,” whereas Lennie, despite his enormous stature, has the mind of a child. Despite this, they are like family.
Laborers in California’s arid vegetable fields, they work as much as they can, whenever they can. George and Lennie have a plan: to acquire an acre of land and their own shack.
Their dream appears to be within reach when they secure work on a ranch in the Salinas Valley.
But even George cannot protect Lennie from the actions of others, nor can he foretell the implications of Lennie’s unwavering commitment to the things George taught him.
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9. The Great Gatsby – Scott Fitzgerald
Nick Carraway arrives in New York City to work as a bond salesman.
He leases a home in the Long Island community of West Egg, across the water from his cousin Daisy and next door to Jay Gatsby’s opulent estate, where he holds spectacular soirées but does not attend them.
Nick is swiftly dragged into the captivating world of the wealthy, penning stories of expensive parties, unattainable love, dreams, and tragedy as he bears witness their illusions and deceptions.
Set during the Jazz Age on Long Island, near New York City, The Great Gatsby provides a snippet of Prohibition-era America while exploring themes of class, societal expectations, identity, and displacement.
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10. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian tale about the fight between free speech and censorship.
It tells the narrative of Guy Montag, a firefighter living in a bleak, dystopian future. Here, books are prohibited, and independent thought is unheard of.
Guy’s duty is to burn all of the books, as well as the houses where they are concealed.
One day, he meets Clarisse, a quirky young neighbor who has a hidden stockpile of books. What catches Guy’s attention is that she would rather be burned beside her books than turn them in to be destroyed.
Through books, Clarisse introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear. Guy realizes what true freedom feels like as he begins to defy commands and reads books instead of burning them.
If you like sci-fi novels similar to The Outsiders, then you might also like books like Red Rising.
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Young Adult Books Like The Outsiders
Written as a coming-of-age story through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy, The Outsiders is one of the most renowned young adult novels of all time.
It’s only fitting then, that I show you some other highly-praised young adult novels like The Outsiders then:
11. That Was Then, This Is Now – S.E. Hilton
Mark and Bryon are best friends, close enough to be brothers. They’ve been living with Bryon’s mother since Mark’s parents shot each other after a drunken quarrel.
Things are changing now. Bryon is maturing, spending a lot of time with girls, and carefully considering who he wants to be.
Mark is still just interested in the excitement of the moment.
The two find each other drifting apart, that is until Bryon discovers something unexpected about Mark.
That Was Then, This Is Now is a coming-of-age novel like The Outsiders that explores the relationship of two brothers as it progressively changes and deteriorates.
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12. Wonder – R. J. Palacio
August “Auggie” Pullman is a home-schooled fifth-grader who lives in Upper Manhattan’s North River Heights with his parents.
He has a genetic condition, Treacher Collins syndrome, which has left his face disfigured.
For this reason, August has been home-schooled by his mother. However, in order to give him a wider view of the world, his parents enrolled him at Beecher Prep, a private school for the start of fifth grade.
Auggie wants nothing more than to be treated like any other child. But August is dealing with a lot more than simply being new.
Will he make any new friends? And can others around him learn to look past his outward appearance?
Wonder begins with Auggie’s perspective but quickly shifts to include his classmates, sister, and others.
It takes a deep look at how one person’s differences may influence the lives of so many others.
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13. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
In Panem, each individual lives in one of the 12 districts, ranging from the wealthiest districts, such as District 1, to the lowest, District 12. Each area serves The Capitol, the wealthiest district of all.
To keep the districts in line, each year the Capitol forces one boy and one girl from each district to fight in The Hunger Games—a combat to the death with one lone victor earning a lifetime of food and wealth for their family.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, sees stepping forward to take her sister’s place in the Games as a death sentence.
But Katniss has been close to death before, and survival is second nature to her. But, in order to prevail, she must begin making decisions that put survival against humanity.
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14. The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson can’t seem to concentrate on his studies or manage his temper. And being away at boarding school is only getting worse. When Percy’s mother finds out, she decides it is time to tell him the truth about where he came from.
She sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood, a demigod summer camp, where he discovers that his father is Poseidon, God of the Sea.
Soon after, a mystery develops, and Percy embarks on a quest across the United States with two friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—to reach the gates of the Underworld and avoid a terrible battle between the gods.
If you like The Outsiders, this world famous series by Rick Riordan is a young adult series that should be on your list.
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15. Divergent – Veronica Roth
People in Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago society are divided into five factions: Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, Dauntless, and Amity.
Every year, all sixteen-year-olds are required to select a faction in which they will spend the rest of their life.
For Beatrice, that means deciding between sticking with her family and being herself.
As a result, she makes a decision that surprises everyone. After renaming herself Tris, she fights to carry out her choice along with her fellow initiates.
They must all work together to withstand physical and mental tests, the results of which can be sometimes devastating.
However, Tris has a secret that she has kept concealed from everyone. One she has been told might lead to death.
And, when she uncovers a growing conflict that threatens to destabilize her seemingly flawless society, she discovers that her secret may just help her save the people she loves.
If you like the sounds of The Divergent, then you may also like The Selection.
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Final Word on Books Similar to The Outsiders
So, there you go! My top 15 books similar to The Outsiders.
Each of these books faces similar themes such as preserving innocence, discovering individual identity, or navigating divided communities.
Of course, there are more books like The Outsiders that face these themes but didn’t make the list. If you have a favorite that you feel I missed, let me know in the comments!
Corisa is an avid reader, writer, and all-around book lover. She started out writing poetry about fairies in elementary school and never stopped. She went on to try out a slew of different careers, but somehow always came back to books. When she’s not writing about stories or making up her own, she’s homeschooling her kids and trying out her skills as an amateur baker.