The Way I Used to Be
A New York Times bestseller.
In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel “is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships, and life” (School Library Journal, starred review).
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, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
First-time author Amber Smith has written a hard-to-put-down novel about a teenager coming undone in the aftermath of rape. During the winter break of her freshman year of high school, Eden McCrorey is attacked by her older brother’s best friend. The Way I Used to Be follows Eden’s transformation over the next three and a half years as she battles waves of guilt, shame, anger, and hopelessness and tries to figure out how to reclaim her life. Smith is a powerful writer with a keen ear for her introverted heroine’s inner monologue and a great sense of pacing.
According to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual-violence organization in the U.S., 80% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, and 68% go unreported. These statistics underpin Smith's debut, which opens with 14-year-old Eden being raped by her brother's best friend while her family sleeps down the hall. Kevin tells good-girl, band-geek Eden that no one will believe her, and she's sure that he is right: Kevin is her brother's teammate and roommate, and her family revolves around her brother. While Eden changes virtually overnight, no one knows what happened largely, it seems, because no one wants to. Smith tracks Eden through her four years in high school, spotlighting her shifting relationship with her friend Mara, the caring boyfriend she lies to, and her increasing acting out with booze and sex. It's painful to watch Eden disintegrate but also true to the double burden she carries the violation of the rape and the weight of carrying the secret. The long-term view Smith takes of Eden's story makes it all the more satisfying when she does find her voice. Ages 14 up.
i cried and cried and cried, i truly loved this book so much