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The Way I Used to Be

Review

The Way I Used to Be

THE WAY I USED TO BE is the powerful debut novel written by Amber Smith. This novel approaches the tough topic of sexual assault and walks us through the time after something like this happens. The main character, Eden, is raped by her brother’s best friend during her freshman year of high school. Although she was always a good, "perfect" girl, her trauma changes her entirely, putting her at odds with the people around her. The story follows her journey through her high school years dealing with the aftermath of the assault.

"THE WAY I USED TO BE will make you angry, tense and frustrated, but you will be glad you read it."

This book is really hard for me to review. I sat down to read this book expecting to read one chapter at a time and ended up reading the whole thing all at once. It wasn’t really what I expected, but it ended up leaving a lasting impression on me. I do think it respectfully approached rape culture in a way that felt really authentic. The cast of secondary characters was diverse and they were really frustrating in the way that you just wanted to scream at them to make them realize what happened to Eden. I think Amber Smith told this story realistically and that is its strongest feature. My only complaint was the lack of resolution --- I really wanted more of Eden in the end; it was almost like the story was just missing a few pages.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel very much, and it is going to stick with me for a long time. I think this book would be eye-opening for anyone in high school or even an older reader. It really shines a spotlight on issues in our society that people are afraid to talk about --- which, of course, only exacerbates these sorts of issues. I think this book could open up the conversation in a smart, appropriate way. THE WAY I USED TO BE will make you angry, tense and frustrated, but you will be glad you read it.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on March 18, 2016

The Way I Used to Be
by Amber Smith