That Was Then, This Is Now
First edition cover, 1971
|Genre||Young adult fiction|
|Publisher||Viking/Penguin (hardcover), Dell Publishing, Laurel Leaf Library (paperback)|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback), Audiobook (audiocassettes)|
|Preceded by||The Outsiders|
|Followed by||Rumble Fish|
That Was Then, This Is Now is a coming-of age, young adult novel by S. E. Hinton, first published in 1971. Set in the 1960s, it follows the relationship between two friends, Mark Jennings and Bryon Douglas, who are like brothers, but find their friendship rapidly changing and detoriating.
The novel is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1960s. Mark and Bryon have been living together as brothers since the death of Mark's parents, and the two often spend time hanging out at the local bar and playing pool to earn money. The novel begins with Bryon's mother in the hospital getting surgery, which causes financial stress for the family. The boys are forced to look for jobs, but due to Mark's rather childish disposition, he resorts to criminal resources while Bryon actively tries to find a job, which eventually leads to tension between the two. Bryon asks the bartender, Charlie, for a job but is refused because he is underage. Meanwhile, the financial strife at home grows worse and Bryon's mother is hospitalized once again. Bryon eventually lands a job at the local supermarket, while Mark begins bringing in suspicious amounts of money at home, not telling Bryon where the money is coming from. Shortly after, Bryon's friend, M&M goes missing, so he and M&M's older sister, Cathy go searching for him. When M&M is finally found, he is sick and hallucinating from drugs, before being taken to the hospital. Upon returning home, Bryon discovers a tube of pills under Mark's bed and is horrified when he realizes that Mark has been selling drugs to people, possibly including M&M. Bryon then calls the police and soon after Mark returns home, the police arrive and take him away to a reformatory. A few months later, Bryon visits Mark, though Mark makes it very clear that he now hates him, effectively ending their bond. Later, Mark acts up frequently and is sent to prison.
Connections to other books by S.E. Hinton
The book, like Rumble Fish, takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hinton's hometown and the setting of her first book, The Outsiders. However, unlike Rumble Fish, Ponyboy Curtis, the main character of The Outsiders, appears in That Was Then, This Is Now and even takes part in the events surrounding the dance and killing spree.
The characters of Tim and Curly Shepard from The Outsiders also appear, as does their sister Angela, who is original to That Was Then, This Is Now. Randy, who was in The Outsiders, also appears as a hippie in this book, which is appropriate to those who have read or seen The Outsiders, as Randy is an affluent kid who feels guilty about the class division and becomes repulsed by it, which is the background and beliefs of many hippies. In Tex, there is a brief description of Mark and Cathy, who are original to That Was Then, This Is Now.
Mark later appears in another one of S.E. Hinton's novels, Tex . Posing as a hitchhiker and having recently escaped from prison and killed multiple people, he forces Tex and Mason to drive him to the state line, holding them at gunpoint - he is soon after killed by the police.