Rising action in the book That Was Then, This Is Now begin with the boys' encounter with hippie M&M during which Bryon and Mark save him from being beaten up, which leads to a thematic encounter with a boy in a hospital recovering from a beating. Another rising action occurs at the school dance where Byron and Cathy are the center of attention until Mark is attacked and Bryon vows revenge on Angela for having Mark attacked.
Then Charlie receives a draft notice for the Vietnam war and Bryon is reflective while Mark takes a car to go to his parole meeting relating to his past offense of car theft. M&M, Mark and Byron all have emotional crises and Angela gets a surprise haircut after she passes out from being drunk and Bryon asks Mark to let go of all the getting even for all the attacks. Bryon finds drugs in Mark's possessions and realizes Mark has no sense of right and wrong. Then comes the climax and resolution, which is of a postmodernist sort with no clear remedy for the fragmentation of the characters' lives.