That Was Then, This Is Now


Key Quotes

1. Do you ever get the feeling that the whole thing is changin? Like somethin’ is coming to an end because somethin’ else is beginning?

Mark says this to Bryon in Chapter 4, after the two boys have spent hours reminiscing about the good times they had as children. Mark’s question sums up the major theme of the novel, which is the process of change that happens as we leave childhood and move into adulthood. In the conversation that follows, it becomes clear that Mark and Bryon are handling this transition very differently. Mark longs to go backwards to the time when gang fights were “so important, it was the whole world if we won or lost.” For Mark, the group mentality of the gang made life simpler, and he finds it “sad…when you get to where you don’t need a gang.” Bryon, on the other hand, thinks it’s a “good thing… when you know your own personality so you don’t need the one the gang makes for you.” In their different responses to changing and growing, we can see the seeds of the conflict that will eventually divide the two friends.

2. “Yeah, but M&M is just a kid.”

“So are we. Nothing bad happens to you when you’re a kid. Or haven’t you realized that?”

“Youth is free from worry,” I said sarcastically. “You’ve been listenin’ to too many adults.”

“I don’t worry. I’m never scared of nothing, and I never will be,” Mark said, “as long as I’m a kid.”

“You can get away with anything,” I said, because that phrase came through my head whenever I really thought about Mark.

“Yeah, I can.” He was quiet. “You used to be able to.”

I looked at him, and suddenly it was like seeing someone across a deep...

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