Friday, January 6, 2017

Teen review: S. E. Hinton

That Was Then, This Is Now
S. E. Hinton
192 pages
realistic fiction, stand-alone novel
Reading level: Grades 7 up

Reviewed by Chloe Hu, grade 9

Bryon Douglas and Mark Jennings have lived together almost like brothers since Mark’s parents died in a gun fight. Bryon’s mother is in the hospital, and because of that, the two boys need to make money to scrape a living. The two boys were similar to one another when they were young, but as time passed, they began to have different appearances, characteristics, and behaviors. During this time, there were lots of changes happening in their lives. Bryon found that sometimes he and Mark were not like they used to be, and sometimes he felt estranged from Mark, even though they maintained their strong sense of brotherhood in daily life. Bryon then accidentally discovers that Mark has been secretly selling illegal drugs to get money. This makes Bryon realize that both of them have changed and that they are not boys any more, and makes him examine the friendship.

This book is not one that I would recommend to everyone, but I think you can experience some great feelings from this book. The author tells the story in a natural way, and it makes you feel that you are not a spectator, but a real person within the world that the author creates. Each character in this book has his or her own story, and each of them is a complete person, with difficulties and choices. Bryon wants to be mature so he can shoulder the responsibility of his family, but he is a teenager so he makes many mistakes and has many problems. Mark tries his own solution to maintain his family's happiness, bu the way he chooses is extreme. Their lives could never mesh again, which is the origin of the book's title, "that was then, this is now." We cannot influence the living style of others, we can only change our own.

I do like the cover of this book. The blue and the black and the man walking down the street alone foreshadow the story.

Personally, I will give this book a rating of 3 (readable/entertaining), because it was not a book that will give deep enlightenment, but if you choose this book you can have a great experience.

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