That was Then, This is Now by S.E Hinton
In the 1960’s, a small town in Oklahoma has had a lot of turmoil, with gang wars and teenage drama coated all over the streets. In the midst of all this chaos, Mark Douglas and Bryon Douglas, two close siblings, are starting to drift apart from each other. As Bryon matures, Mark becomes more hateful and violent, with Bryon trying to keep their relationship intact before it shatters away forever. Meanwhile, Bryon starts to develop a more complex understanding of the world, and where he fits among the beautiful hellfire of adolescent life.
The style in which “That Was Then, This is Now” was written gives a rather eloquent yet intriguing air of poise to this novel, using sophisticated language to transform the plight of the character’s conflicts and experiences into inquisitive expression through language. Even though the point of view in the novel belongs to Bryon Douglas, Mark’s older stepbrother, it brings a level of complexity and thoughtfulness that gives the story a heartfelt tone into this novel’s world.
Throughout the book, S.E Hinton’s literary voice brings a new light to the growing emotional struggles in youth and the ever-present threat of adolescent turmoil. Hinton expresses how change in those around you can affect your outlook on life, using various literary devices to harness the author’s voice into the perspective of Bryon Douglas, giving a sense of attentiveness to the events that happen throughout the story, comparing and contrasting ideas that give the novel its own distinctive flair, bringing life to the world of Bryon and his many escapades.
A significant life lesson I have learned from the novel is that people can react in diverse ways when exposed to change, and you should accept that people will have different responses to this. It is displayed throughout the book in numerous ways, such as Bryon’s emotional awareness, becoming more empathetic towards those around him, even going so far as to have deep feelings for Cathy Carlson, the older sister to M&M, a close friend of the Douglas siblings. However, Mark is oblivious to this new mindset, and desperately attempts to cling on to the taut threads of their childhood escapades, causing Bryon to acknowledge Mark’s refusal to mature, but despite this, Bryon still goes ahead and causes Mark’s arrest.
I would recommend this novel to others, because it explains how complex and fragile the relationship between two siblings truly is, showing what lengths brothers will go to in attempts to do the right thing, despite the bleak outcome that would follow; Bryon getting Mark arrested while having such a close bond, striving to achieve the “greater good.” It kept me at an edge of absolute awe as I read the chilling, yet intriguing ending, which would give any reader a feeling satisfaction, not just for their conscience, but for the character’s tedious struggles and triumphs as well. I would give this book a 9.5/10.