I read this around my sixteenth birthday. It's constantly compared to The Catcher in the Rye, but is darker and somewhat better-written. I still like it, but for some reason, not as much as I once did.
Apparently this novel is on the Goodreads "best LGBT books" list, and John Knowles once stated that Gene and Phineas are supposed to be in love, although it isn't obvious. Who knew?--it really isn't. Although I wasn't looking for one anyway, I saw no homoerotic subtext in the relationship between Gene and Phineas, especially considering the jealousy and hatred Gene feels toward Phineas and the violent action they lead Gene to commit.