on March 22, 2016
In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
The Way I Used to Be was like a punch in the gut. It left be breathless. I mean that in the best possible way. I absolutely loved every single second of this book. This review is probably going to be a bit gushy. I’m not going to apologize for it.
I don’t usually read books so early, but The Way I Used to Be caught my attention right away and I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. It’s not an easy book to take in. The story starts the morning after Eden is raped. In her home. By someone she trusts. It’s a horrifying situation. We as the reader get caught up in the aftermath. The book spans years, because the horror doesn’t just end for Eden. It takes her so long to even try to start the healing process. All of that seemed very realistic to me.
Eden is so wounded throughout the entire book. She does very self destructive things and even hurts people she loves. It was hard to read at times. But her struggles rang so true. She had the normal everyday troubles of a teen on top of her trauma. She was easily likeable despite some of her behaviors. I felt so much for her. She was an incredible main character.
It’s been years since I read a book that spoke to me the way The Way I Used to Be has. It’s being compared to Speak and for once, I think that’s an accurate comparison. Speak was just an important part of my teen years. I read it over and over. I think this book will find the same love among teens today.
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith is not a lighthearted story. It’s hard to take in a times. It’s sad, but it’s also a beautiful journey. It’s filled with amazingly realistic teen characters and gorgeous writing. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2015. I’m still thinking about it more than a week later. So, needless to say I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone. Read it!