That was then, this is now
159 P.; 18 cm
That was then, this is now by S.E. Hinton is a story about teenagers growing up too fast in a society that is too slow. It took place in an inner city in the early seventies. The point of view was told in first person by a character named Bryon. The story mainly deals with the main characters, Mark and Bryon.
Mark and Bryon are lifetime friends and they're like brothers to each other. Mark used to live next to Bryon, but when his parents killed each other in a drunken argument, Mark moved in at Bryon's. From that moment on they're even more closely. Bryon's mother is really sick and she's spending most of the time in the hospital. She needs to have quite some surgeries what brings Mark and Bryon in a lot of money problems. They're going to a lot of tough times together, but they always seem to get over it. Mark and Bryon have a lot of good friends, but also enemies. One of those good friends is M&M (they give him that name because he is always eating these candies), he's a really smart kid. Mark and Bryon often talk to him. Because of the money problems Mark and Bryon had to sell the car. Sometimes they "borrow" a car from somebody and bring it back later. But Bryon prefers asking somebody if they can lent his/her car. When Mark and Bryon are at Charlie's (that's a pub) M&M remind Bryon of Cathy, M&M's sister. Bryon falls in love right away. After a while Bryon and Cathy are going steady. There was a dance coming up where Bryon really wanted to go to. But he didn't have a car. So he ask Charlie for it. The evening of the dance Bryon picks up Cathy. They really want to have a good time together so if later that evening there has been an accident they don't want to go and see what happened. But when one of those good friends from Mark, Curtis, yelled at Bryon that Mark's hurt, he went cold. Mark was hurt with a beer bottle. And he went to the hospital for ten stitches in his head. A few weeks later Mark and Bryon are at Charlie's. They were there to play pool. They ask Charlie for any possibilities, he nodded towards a couple of guys (Texans) in the poolroom. Charlie also said that they have to be careful. Mark and Bryon were losing but later that night Bryon started winning. When Charlie said that it was closing time, it seems that the Texans were gone, but when Bryon and Mark came to the door, the Texans were holding a gun at them and telling them how stupid they had been. Charlie "saved" them by holding a gun at the Texans and tells them to drop the gun. But before they knew what was happening one of the Texans made a drive for the gun and fired at them. Charlie was dead at once. After a while they seem to "get over" it. They get trough with there life's. Everything goes well, but when Bryon, Mark, M&M and Cathy are going for a raid at the Ribbon, M&M don't want to go home. The tree friends ask him when they can pick him up, but he said; "never" and walked away to some friends of his. From then on they wouldn't see him for a few months. Cathy is worried and Bryon also. Together with Mark he looks everywhere to get a sign of M&M. Some day Mark tells Bryon that he knows where M&M is. So he and Bryon are looking for him at one of those hippie home's. The first time they don't find him but the second time the will. The third time they bring Cathy with them. It's really hard for her to see her brother like that. Then Bryon calls an ambulance for M&M. He had a bad trip on acid. After a while Bryon faces a terrible decision. Mark is dealing drugs. It's bugging him so much because a good friend of his lost his mind on a bad acid trip. He turned his best friend, Bryon, in. A few weeks after he turned Mark in he got to see him. The only reason Mark wants to see him is to make sure he hated him. He is also saying that when he is out of jail he never going back to where he used to live. And that he will never see Bryon again.
I've read a realistic novel. I thought so because it's distinctive for the U.S.A, where the story took place. There were many characters that had a though time with growing up, and resorted to drugs violence, and carelessness. The storyline is just so real that it would make an excellent movie. In some way I've also read a novel of education. Because the main character, Bryon, learned a lot of his life, from the bad times but also from the good times. Throughout the story you can see how he changes. One of the lessons I took away from it would be that when life gets hard, a person has to be even harder.
The memorable passage for me was one of the last scenes. Bryon came to visit Mark in prison. At the first of their conversation Mark explains that he wanted to see Bryon to make sure that he hated him. Later on, Mark turns Bryon's words against him when Mark ends the conversation by saying, "That was then, this is now". These lines were the culmination of the book and the best part, because it's the central thought of the book. And also the title.
"Finally, at…killed me". (L.1-58)
The main characters are Mark and Bryon.
Bryon: He's a big guy, dark hair and eyes. He's a guy with a good head on his shoulders along with a lot of pressure. Bryon goes from a street-smart gangster to an intelligent teenager who is a bit detached. I think these changes are caused by the fact that he's going trough a lot of times, his involvement with girls, gangs and drugs increases but the relationship between Mark and Bryon seems to disintegrate. One day Bryon told himself those things had to change. He stopped and realised that his life was turning out to be a huge mess. Therefore, he turned in his best friend, Mark for dealing drugs. After taking gradual steps, Bryon finally deals with his own problems instead of taking on everyone else's. After he dealt with everything around him, and then himself, he practically started over. He began a totally new life, starting over relationships, or ending them. I really would have liked it to be his friend, because he's smart, gentle and concerned about his friends. I certainly would have behaved the same way, because his reactions are so human like, so normal and so self-evident.
Mark: He's small and compact, with strange golden eyes and hair to match and grin likes a friendly lion. He's also very strong, stronger then you thought he would be. In the story he had no concept of right and wrong. He thought that he did not have to obey the laws because they were just words written down. Mark doesn't change throughout the story, he is always the same guy. The same thing as for Bryon counts for Mark. But the difference from being a friend of Mark is that I really don't think that I ever could or would have been his friend. Because his behaviour is so different from mine. I think I never would have met him or talked to him in the first place.
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