‘Different Shorelines’ by S.E. Hinton

Different Shorelines by S.E. Hinton, 2007

The magic trick:

Telling the story of a changing relationship and changing lives with an efficient format of four vignettes spread over a decade

We’re off to Oklahoma this week.

I’m not sure I can think of an author more Oklahoma than S.E. Hinton. I think we read all of about four novels in junior high English class, and for some reason, two of the four were by Hinton. And this appears to be the norm for my generation, talking to other people over the years. Nothing against Hinton either. The Outsiders was formative stuff for 12-year-old me. But it’s just weird, the Hinton emphasis for Generation X America.

None of that is the point here though. The point here is to look at a story from her Some Of Tim’s Stories collection, linked stories about a couple of cousins in Oklahoma.

“Different Shorelines” gives a quick glimpse into their changing lives via four vignettes, each set at the same lake but told over four different visits across 13 years. Efficient and moving, it’s a good format for storytelling.

And that’s quite a trick on Hinton’s part.

The selection:

FALL 1996

“We used to bring you kids here when you were little,” Aunt Jelly said.

“I remember,” Mike said.

There were still some little kids determined to stay in the water; it was likely to be the last warm weekend of the year. Already the water was cold.

“Just a little while longer?” they’d whine when their moms made them get out. Their teeth would be chattering, their lips blue, and all they could think of was getting back in.

Mike could remember whining like that. He picked up his cigarettes from the picnic table, tapped another one out.

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