S.E. Hinton and Taming the Star Runner

When I was a teenager, our high school library had four S.E. Hinton books: The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, That was Then, This is Now, and Tex.


Guess which four S.E. Hinton books I read as a teenager.

I didn’t even know there were any others. That was the only library I got to visit very often, and that was pre-Internet. We had a copy of Books in Print, but it wasn’t that much fun to peruse.

And S.E. Hinton is seriously awesome. She wrote The Outsiders when she was in high school. High school! It was published her freshman year of college. And she’s from Oklahoma. Tulsa…but that’s still close enough to me to be incredible. She was a teenage me’s dream – a young writer of amazing books from the same state I was in. It was almost too much to be believed.

She’s still active in the writing community and interacts with fans online. She is on Twitter (and has replied to my tweets – bliss!) and did a big Q & A on Goodreads this week. She’s done some books for children and adults that are in my To Be Read pile.

ANYWAY! S.E. Hinton wrote one more young adult book – Taming the Star Runner, which was published in 1988.

I was at the Mustang Library the other day, being a grown-up creeper in the young adult section, as usual, when I saw Hinton’s young adult books. I saw the original four, and then I spotted Taming the Star Runner.

My mind puzzled at the name. Taming the Star Runner? I wondered if it was sci-fi and pulled it off the shelf. Even with the horse on the front, I still figured it was going to be in the future or something.

Well, that was wrong. The Star Runner is a horse. Not a space-ship-y thing.

It’s about this kid named Travis, who loves to write but doesn’t love his stepfather, and gets sent to live with his dad’s brother in Oklahoma. The uncle has horses and kids come out for lessons, and people board their horses there. The instructor, Casey, owns the Star Runner, this wild-acting stallion. Casey also becomes Travis’ love interest.

I liked this book for several reasons.

First, I really connected with the horse aspects of the story. I know Hinton loves horses, and it’s obvious she knows her way around a barn. My daughter actually has a horse and we board it near our house. My daughter also takes lessons there. Having this experience really let me see the books’ horse stuff clearly in my mind. There was even a horse show in the story, and we’ve done that too. I still feel awkward at the barn and at shows, but it was neat reading about it in the story.

Second, Travis is a writer, and he has sent his book off to a publisher. Now, I’m sure that Travis’ experiences are not exactly S.E. Hinton’s, but I imagine she let some of her life shine through these pages. Travis’ thoughts and emotions during the submission and revision process felt almost like a mini-biography of Hinton’s life during publishing of The Outsiders. As an aspiring author, that was a real gem tucked away in the book.

Third. Dang, just reading a S.E. Hinton book again was good. She’s a great writer. Taming the Star Runner was different than a lot of the books I see today. Young Adult books today seem to really have to be quick paced to make the cut. Every page is just go, go, go, go, go! Every plot line and action is sharp and purposeful. Taming the Star Runner feels more like real life. There’s not always a huge incredible climax. Sometimes life just happens, and it’s not whiz-bang capers all the time. This book is more about feelings and emotions and less about action – although there is a big action scene at the end that was almost too fast for me to keep up!

I’m a little sad that unless she writes another, I won’t be reading another young adult book by S.E. Hinton again (at least for the first time.)

She was the person who first taught me that a kid from Oklahoma could be an acclaimed author, writing books she loved. She planted the seed that allowed me to start work on a first novel when I was in high school. That book was never finished, but I still think about it sometimes. Maybe I can do something with it in the future.

S.E. Hinton still provides inspiration to me today.

Do you have a favorite S.E. Hinton book? Who inspires you?

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