I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 22, 2016
Genres: Girls & Women, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social & Family Issues, Teen, Young Adult
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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 is an emotional powerhouse. Eden is a typical orchestra geek. She looks up to her big brother and has a crush on his best friend. Starting high school after her popular jock brother was hard enough but then the unthinkable happens. The boy she admired from afar rapes her. In one brutal instance Eden’s life changes in ways she cannot imagine. Set in four acts, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior year; each shows how one moment creates a ripple that will effect someone’s entire future.
If you want to truly feel a book The Way I Used to Be is the one for you. In her powerful debut Amber Smith, creates a true world. The world built was richly nuanced and detailed. The pacing flowed very well, sometimes a book that spans multiple years will jump too fast or lag in parts and this just cruised. The plot was perfection. A story that could have been clichéd or depressing was elevated by a story line that matched the tone and the emotion. The characters shone. Eden was a fully fleshed out person and you truly felt what she did. All of the supporting cast was equally as real and that made a huge impact. The writing though, was what shone. Smith was able to take a real issue and make you feel it. Her writing was fluid and packed a punch.
I will admit I ugly cried more than once reading The Way I Used to Be. The emotions bled off of the page and I am glad I was able to read this. Amber Smith is a writer to watch and I eagerly await her next book.
Favorite lines – Only now I can’t remember, damn it, where the lies ended and I began. It’s all blurred. Everything suddenly seems to have become so messy, so gray, so undefined and terrifying. All I know is that things went terribly awry, this wasn’t the plan. The plan was to get better, to feel better, by any means. But I don’t feel better, I feel empty, empty and broken, still. And alone. More alone than ever before.
Biggest cliché – “I will value myself only as others see me.”
Have you read The Way I Used to Be, or added it to your TBR?