Right now we are well into chapter 7. It’s only been a week (book time) since chapter 1, and S. E. Hinton starts us off by showing a slice of life at the Curtis house. Friends come and go, they get to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, pillow fights. Almost sounds fun.

Then we get Pony’s conversation with Randy. Middle schoolers (even today) are surprisingly conservative, and very few of them question Randy’s statement about Bob’s parents needing to “belt him, just once.” They all know what he means, and they’re just shocked when Randy tells the story of Bob coming home drunk and his parents blaming themselves.

I like to ask them about their experiences with teachers who didn’t have control of the class. We talk about how it’s no fun when everybody is just doing whatever without consequences. Middle schoolers like consequences. Really. They do. They think everybody should get what he/she deserves. Just as long as it isn’t them.

Anyway, we’re getting close to chapter 9. I read to them up through the rumble, and Dally and Pony on their way to see Johnny after. Then I have to let them read 9 and 10 on their own. Especially 10. Even after so many years and times reading it, chapter 10 always does me in.

I warned them that they were going to read chapters 9 and 10 on their own. My very perceptive and sensitive class is already calling me out.

“I bet Johnny dies, and he starts crying.”