That Was Then, This is Now


That Was Then, This Is Now (published and set in 1971,) is a coming-of-age young adult novel by S. E. Hinton. It follows the relationship between two friends, Mark and Bryon, who are like brothers but find their relationship rapidly changing.[1] It was later made into a film starring Emilio Estevez and Craig Sheffer.[2]


Bryon Douglas and Mark Jennings have been like brothers since childhood but now times are changing. Bryon is growing up and thinking about who he wants to be, but Mark is still living for the thrill of the moment.[3]

The book starts out with Bryon's mom being in the hospital. She is Bryon's birth mother, and Mark's adoptive mother. Mark's parents shot each other in a drunken argument. So Mark and Bryon have to make money to help support the family while their mom is in the hospital getting surgery.

Bryon gets a job at the local supermarket while Mark starts bringing in lots of cash. Bryon doesn't ask where it's from, but eventually, discovers that Mark has been getting his money by selling drugs to hippies. Bryon is horrified since his girlfriend's 13-year-old brother went mad because of someone selling him drugs. Byron calls the police on Mark, loosening their bond. When Mark comes home he tells him that he found the drugs and Mark say that he will stop if it makes Bryon upset. Bryon says it is too late, that he already called the police. Mark is surprised but does not believe it. The police come and take Mark away to a reformatory. A couple months afterward Bryon visits Mark, though Mark makes it very clear that he now hates him. Later, Mark acts up frequently and is sent to prison. The title of the book is one of the famous quotes in the book and is used at the end of the story.

Connections to other books by S.E. Hinton

The book, like Rumble Fish, takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the same town as Hinton's 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.

See also
  • The Outsiders (novel)
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