After the success of her novels The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Tex, and Taming The Star Runner, S.E. Hinton was ready to complete her five book contract by writing her final young adult novel. Only problem was, this overnight success brought a lot of pressure, which manifested itself into a three year long writer’s block, which then turned into depression. Her boyfriend (now husband) hated seeing his beloved so tired and down. So, he decided to help break this block by suggesting that she write two pages a day before going anywhere. This ultimately led her to write That Was Then, This Is Now.
Mark and Bryon have been best friends since forever. Since Mark’s parents shot and killed each other in a drunken argument when he was nine, Bryon and his mother decided to take Mark into their home. She has since loved and treated him like a son and the boys have always thought of each other as brothers. Life couldn’t seem any better, right? Well now, things are starting to change. Bryon realizes that he’s growing up, spending a lot of time with his girlfriend, Cathy, and thinking seriously about who he wants to be in life. Mark, however, still just lives for the thrill of the moment. The two are growing apart-but holding on-until Bryon makes a shocking discovery about the guy he has always called “brother”. Then Bryon faces a terrible decision – one that will change both their lives forever. So does growing up have to mean growing apart?
In 1985, the novel was turned into a film starring Emilio Estevez.
Hinton certainly knows how to leave her mark. That Was Then, This Is Now is a brutal, harsh, and mature piece of work that is hard to forget. Readers will not just be sad by the end of the S.E. Hinton saga, but also by the tear-jerker ending. Like Bryon in the story, readers will realize also realize S.E. Hinton was right: The Outsiders made you think. That Was Then, This Is Now will make you feel.