Susan Eloise Hinton, known to her multitudes of readers as “S. E. Hinton,” a trick that she and her early publisher used to mask her gender, is credited with revolutionizing the young adult book industry with the 1967 publication of her coming-of-age book, The Outsiders, which she published when she was only seventeen years old. Her second effort, 1971’s That Was Then, This Is Now, also dealt with the realistic themes of youth violence and tragedy that had characterized her first work, and some critics considered this sophomore effort even better than the first. Both books, and in fact most of Hinton’s books, are based on events that she witnessed as a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That Was Then, This Is Now tells the tale of Bryon Douglas, a sixteen- year-old greaser who finds himself growing up and growing apart from his foster brother, Mark, whom he adores. As Mark refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and gets involved with selling drugs, Bryon must face the hardest decision of his life—whether to turn Mark in. With its graphic depictions of gang life, the hippie lifestyle, and the potentially crippling effects of drugs, That Was Then, This Is Now offered a snapshot of the turbulent and transitional times in which it was written and has stood the test of time, becoming a favorite with teens, adults, and educators.
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