A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is one of those character driven stories that appeal to teens because they see themselves in the characters and connect with the turbulence within their lives. However, since the subject matter is concerning some difficult stuff, this book can be a catalyst for a discussion with your teen about how they feel, and what is going on in their world.
Positive Role Models
A character helps an African-American girl, but she asks her friends to beat him up because he's white. As was common in 1971, the main character refers to African-Americans as "Negroes." The main characters hustle pool, fight, drink and smoke.
Violence & Scariness
A man is shot to death, and both main characters are injured in several brutal fights.
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One mild expletive. The main character states a dislike for the profanity he hears all around him.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and smoking and drug use.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that teenagers often see themselves in this story about kids who are going through a turbulent adolescence. The realistic character study seems to touch young readers, who frequently undergo similar uncertainty.
Is It Any Good?
Young readers who enjoyed The Outsiders often want to read this one, which contains realistic portrayals of the same tough, wrong-side-of-the-track kids. But while The Outsiders simply exploits pathos, THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW explores more complex ideas only touched on in the earlier book. It's a superior effort, one that even extremely reluctant readers understand and enjoy.
Much like The Outsider, this book examines friendship and loyalty. But in this case, the main character, Bryon, turns in his best friend, Mark, to the police. It's a major transformation for Bryon, who states throughout the book that he hates cops. Unlike Mark, Bryon tires of the constant violence of his neighborhood. He's stunned when he hears the story of a hospitalized boy who refuses to hate his attackers, even though he had tried to help their friend. Bryon begins thinking about the futility of revenge and the cycle of violence it causes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.