Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith


Title: The Way I Used to Be
Author: Amber Smith
Pub. Date: March 2016
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


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 Review

I had mixed feelings about this book. I knew it had a sensitive topic, so I went in fully prepared. I read Mistrust by Margaret McHeyzer a few months ago, and that emotionally ruined me, so when I was told this would be an emotional rollercoaster . . . I had some tissues ready!

This was completely different, however. The book is divided into four sections, each a different year of high school: freshman through senior years. For the most part, it felt like I was reading a book about high school and relationships. A girl going through puberty and acting out, who just happened to be a rape victim.

Sophomore year came Josh, and Edy’s wanting a . . . sex buddy and nothing else. In addition to her completely acting out at home, and the reinventing herself. This was after the rape, so I felt it was her cry for attention since no one would listen to her.

I’m not here to dismiss Edy’s actions or to say her actions weren’t justifiable, since I know not all victims have the same reaction(s) and/or coping mechanisms. However, I just didn’t feel that I was reading about a rape victim until the last few chapters, when she opened up and allowed herself to say the word.

This review was hard for me to write, because I didn’t want to come off as insensitive to such a sensitive subject, but I will say . . . the book itself is very well written, and I enjoyed it.


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