I just re-read this. The first time I was only about 14. At that time I was so starry-eyed about the whole world presented (it was probably the first really adult novel I had read also) that I wasn't too concerned with the actual meaning of the events.
This time through I am amazed by how easy it is to read. I also see a much darker side to it than I did at my earlier stage. At that time it seemed like the stuff that happened was just stuff that happened. Now I am able to see it as a reflection on them or at least how they have chosen to deal with difficult circumstances.
Though my ardor has cooled a little, this is still one of my favorite novels.