I first read this book when I was about 13 years old (about 25 years ago, give or take). I checked it out from the school library, and I remember being so proud, because--due to my reading level--it was decided that I was to be allowed to checkout books from the high school section of the library as opposed to having to stick to the younger section.
This was the first book I chose. I read it, fell in love with it, and probably read it at least six times during the two weeks I had it checked out.
I think part of the enchantment was that I was finally allowed to read a book that dealt with more adult issues over the books I'd been reading before. The characters felt real to me and the writing spoke to me (the author wrote this when she was 16, so maybe something in the speaking patterns and dialogue she used reminded me a lot of how my friends and I talked at the time).
I also connected with the narrator, Ponyboy, and could see a lot of myself in him, and even the Greasers as a whole, though, not from the criminal aspect, of course. The growing up poor and feeling/being looked down upon because of it? You betcha.
I've lost count of the number of times I've read this book over the years, and it never fails to make me cry at certain parts. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love this book and how much it means to me.
I've reread it now, because I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately and it was beginning to freak me out. A very dear friend suggested rereading an old favorite to see if that would sort of jump start things again. There was only one choice as far as I was concerned.
Whether or not it gets me out of my rut, I don't yet know, but I relished the chance to revisit Ponyboy and his world once again.