Title: That Was Then, This is Now
Author: S.E. Hinton
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
Series: None, however several characters from The Outsiders are in this book. :D
Published On: April 1st 1998 (first published 1971)
My Rating: 4 Stars
Does growing up have to mean growing apart? Since childhood, Bryon and Mark have been as close as brothers. Now things are changing. Bryon's growing up, spending a lot of time with girls, and thinking seriously about who he wants to be. Mark still just lives for the thrill of the moment. The two are growing apart - until Bryon makes a shocking discovery about Mark. Then Bryon faces a terrible decision - one that will change both of their lives forever.
**There maybe might be spoilers… it’s kind of hard to discuss this book without spoilers, so… you’ve been warned.**
I was expecting this book to be emotional, but mostly I was expecting it to make me sad like The Outsiders did. I guess in a way it did make me sad, but it made me more angry than anything, and incredibly annoyed.
“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.”
Bryon and Mark are best friends, practically brothers, who have been incredibly close since they were kids. And as the summary mentions, in this book, growing up does mean growing apart (and doing stupid impulsive things that you think are right but really just makes things worse) for these boys.
There’s a lot that bothers me with this book. For one, the ‘shocking discovery’ Bryon makes isn’t all that shocking. It was kind of obvious in that I’m-going-to-pretend-I-don’t-know kind of way, because Bryon speculates throughout the book that Mark doing something… not exactly legal. So basically, Bryon makes that discovery and then freaks out and does something that screws up their friendship.
Second, Bryon thinks he’s above everyone. Maybe he’s not 100% aware that he does, but he totally does. And to make it worse, he is annoyed when others seem stuck-up. Throughout the book, it seems like he’s maturing, and he thinks he’s maturing, but I think his final decision shows just how immature he really is.
Mark is impulsive and lives in the moment, and for these things he is portrayed and viewed as immature and childish, but I think these things don’t strictly define maturity, even though I do believe Mark is immature and doesn’t fully understand things like his own choices, or their consequences.
This book was confusing. Is confusing. And sometimes I feel like I get it, and sometimes I’m just frustrated because I don’t. But I think that’s good, because S.E. Hinton’s goal seems to be to make her readers think and feel something they might not understand… yet (or possibly ever). Something they might not be familiar with.
Do I recommend it? Of course. While the characters can be irritating and the plot will probably upset you, it’s well worth it. That Was Then, This is Now is a book you will think about for a while after reading it, just like The Outsiders (a book I read in 7th grade and still often think about), and it will for sure make you think. Especially about what it means to grow up. Plus, there’s some pretty great quotes!