This coming-of-age story is told in first-person from the perspective of Ponyboy Curtis, a tough-yet-sympathetic 14-year-old who's recently lost his parents and is being looked after by his older brother. He and his friends belong to a loose-knit lower-class gang called the "Greasers", who are in active rivalry with a higher class gang called the "Socs" (Socials.) When rivalry escalates to a killing in self-defense, Ponyboy and one of his friends are forced into hiding while an all out gang war brews.
The pacing is brisk and the word choices are concise. A lot of the names are a bit off-beat, but that doesn't long distract from the overall story.
What's always amazed me about this book was that it was vividly believable, in spite of the fact that the author had no personal experience with 'gangs' of the era. She paints a lively portrait of the dynamics between social strata, and the complexities of relationships and loyalties between close male friends. If I hadn't known better, I would have assumed this stemmed from direct knowledge.