The Way I Used to Be

The Way I Used to Be


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481449359
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 03/22/2016
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 223,352
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be and The Last to Let Go. An advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence, as well as LGBTQ equality, she writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue surrounding these issues. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her partner and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats. You can find her online at

Read an Excerpt

The Way I Used to Be

  • I DON’T KNOW A LOT of things. I don’t know why I didn’t hear the door click shut. Why I didn’t lock the damn door to begin with. Or why it didn’t register that something was wrong—so mercilessly wrong—when I felt the mattress shift under his weight. Why I didn’t scream when I opened my eyes and saw him crawling between my sheets. Or why I didn’t try to fight him when I still stood a chance.

    I don’t know how long I lay there afterward, telling myself: Squeeze your eyelids shut, try, just try to forget. Try to ignore all the things that didn’t feel right, all the things that felt like they would never feel right again. Ignore the taste in your mouth, the sticky dampness of the sheets, the fire radiating through your thighs, the nauseating pain—this bulletlike thing that ripped through you and got lodged in your gut somehow. No, can’t cry. Because there’s nothing to cry about. Because it was just a dream, a bad dream—a nightmare. Not real. Not real. Not real. That’s what I keep thinking: NotRealNotRealNotReal. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Like a mantra. Like a prayer.

    I don’t know that these images flashing through my mind—a movie of someone else, somewhere else—will never really go away, will never ever stop playing, will never stop haunting me. I close my eyes again, but it’s all I can see, all I can feel, all I can hear: his skin, his arms, his legs, his hands too strong, his breath on me, muscles stretching, bones cracking, body breaking, me getting weaker, fading. These things—it’s all there is.

    I don’t know how many hours pass before I awake to the usual Sunday morning clamor—pots and pans clanging against the stove. Food smells seeping under my door—bacon, pancakes, Mom’s coffee. TV sounds—cold fronts and storm systems moving through the area by midday—Dad’s weather channel. Dishwasher-running sounds. Yippy yappy dog across the street yips and yaps at probably nothing, as always. And then there’s the almost imperceptible rhythm of a basketball bouncing against the dewy blacktop and the squeaky-sneaker shuffling of feet in the driveway. Our stupid, sleepy suburbia, like every other stupid, sleepy suburbia, awakens groggy, indifferent to its own inconsequence, collectively wishing for one more Saturday and dreading chores and church and to-do lists and Monday morning. Life just goes, just happens, continuing as always. Normal. And I can’t shake the knowledge that life will just keep on happening, regardless if I wake up or not. Obscenely normal.

    I don’t know, as I force my eyes open, that the lies are already in motion. I try to swallow. But my throat’s raw. Feels like strep, I tell myself. I must be sick, that’s all. Must have a fever. I’m delirious. Not thinking clearly. I touch my lips. They sting. And my tongue tastes blood. But no, it couldn’t have been. Not real. So as I stare at the ceiling, I’m thinking: I must have serious issues if I’m dreaming stuff like that. Horrible stuff like that. About Kevin. Kevin. Because Kevin is my brother’s best friend, practically my brother. My parents love him like everyone does, even me, and Kevin would never—could never. Not possible. But then I try to move my legs to stand. They’re so sore—no, broken feeling. And my jaw aches like a mouthful of cavities.

    I close my eyes again. Take a deep breath. Reach down and touch my body. No underwear. I sit up too fast and my bones wail like I’m an old person. I’m scared to look. But there they are: my days-of-the-week underwear in a ball on the floor. They were my Tuesdays, even though it was Saturday, because, well, who would ever know anyway? That’s what I was thinking when I put them on yesterday. And now I know, for sure, it happened. It actually happened. And this pain in the center of my body, the depths of my insides, restarts its torture as if on cue. I throw the covers off. Kneecap-shaped bruises line my arms, my hips, my thighs. And the blood—on the sheets, the comforter, my legs.

    But this was supposed to be an ordinary Sunday.

    I was supposed to get up, get dressed, and sit down to breakfast with my family. Then after breakfast, I would promptly go to my bedroom and finish any homework I hadn’t finished Friday night, sure to pay special attention to geometry. I would practice that new song we learned in band, call my best friend, Mara, maybe go to her house later, and do dozens of other stupid, meaningless tasks.

    But that’s not what’s going to happen today, I know, as I sit in my bed, staring at my stained skin in disbelief, my hand shaking as I press it against my mouth.

    Two knocks on my bedroom door. I jump.

    “Edy, you up?” My mother’s voice shouts. I open my mouth, but it feels like someone poured hydrochloric acid down my throat and I might never be able to speak again. Knock, knock, knock: “Eden, breakfast!” I quickly pull my nightgown down as far as it will go, but there’s blood smeared on that, too.

    “Mom?” I finally call back, my voice scratchy and horrible.

    She cracks the door open. As she peers in her eyes immediately go to the blood. “Oh God,” she gasps, as she slips inside and quickly shuts the door behind her.

    “Mom, I—” But how am I supposed say the words, the worst words, the ones I know have to be spoken?

    “Oh, Edy.” She sighs, turning her head at me with a sad smile. “It’s okay.”

    “Wh—” I start to say. How can it be okay, in what world is this okay?

    “This happens sometimes when you’re not expecting it.” She flits around my room, tidying up, barely looking at me while she explains about periods and calendars and counting the days. “It happens to everyone. That’s why I told you, you need to keep track. That way you won’t have to deal with these . . . surprises. You can be . . . prepared.”

    This is what she thinks this is.

    Now, I’ve seen enough TV movies to know you’re supposed to tell. You’re just supposed to fucking tell. “But—”

    “Why don’t you hop in the shower, sweetie?” she interrupts. “I’ll take care of this . . . uh . . . ,” she begins, gesturing with her arm in a wide circle over my bed, searching for the word, “this mess.”

    This mess. Oh God, it’s now or never. Now or never. It’s now. “Mom—” I try again.

    “Don’t be embarrassed,” she says with a laugh. “It’s fine, really, I promise.” She stands over me, looking taller than she ever has before, handing me my robe, oblivious of my Tuesday underwear crumpled at her feet.

    “Mom, Kevin—” I start, but his name in my mouth makes me want to throw up.

    “Don’t worry, Edy. He’s out back with your brother. They’re playing basketball. And your father’s glued to the TV, as usual. Nobody’ll see you. Go ahead. Put this on.”

    Looking up at her, I feel so small. And Kevin’s voice moves like a tornado through my mind, whispering—his breath on my face—No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever.

    Then my mom shakes the robe at me, offering me a lie I didn’t even need to think up. She starts getting that look in her eye—that impatient, it’s-the-holidays-and-I-don’t-have-time-for-this look. Clearly, it was time for me to get going so she could deal with this mess. And clearly, nobody was going to hear me. Nobody was going to see me—he knew that. He had been around long enough to know how things work here.

    I try to stand without looking like everything is broken. I kick the Tuesdays under the bed so she won’t find them and wonder. I take my robe. Take the lie. And as I look back at my mother, watching her collect the soiled sheets in her arms—the evidence—I know somehow if it’s not now, it has to be never. Because he was right, no one would ever believe me. Of course they wouldn’t. Not ever.

    In the bathroom, I carefully peel off my nightgown, holding it at arm’s length as I ball it up and stuff it in the garbage can under the sink. I adjust my glasses and examine myself more closely. There are a few faint marks on my throat in the shape of his fingers. But they’re minor, really, in comparison to the ones on my body. No bruises on my face. Only the two-inch scar above my left eye from my bike accident two summers ago. My hair is slightly more disastrous than usual, but essentially I look the same—I can pass.

    By the time I get out of the shower—still dirty, after scrubbing my body raw, thinking I could maybe wash the bruises off—there he is. Sitting at my kitchen table in my dining room with my brother, my father, my mother, sipping my orange juice from my glass—his mouth on a glass I would have to use someday. On a fork that would soon be undifferentiated from all the other forks. His fingerprints not only all over every inch of me, but all over everything: this house, my life, the world—infected with him.

    Caelin raises his head and narrows his eyes at me as I cautiously approach the dining room. He can see it. I knew he would see it right away. If anyone was going to notice—if I could count on anyone—it would be my big brother. “Okay, you’re being really weird and intense right now,” he announces. He could tell because he always knew me even better than I knew myself.

    So I stand there and wait for him to do something about this. For him to set his fork down, stand up and pull me aside, take me out to the backyard by the arm, and demand to know what’s wrong with me, demand to know what happened. Then I’d tell him what Kevin did to me and he’d give me one of his big brother-isms, like, Don’t worry, Edy, I’ll take care of it. The way he did whenever anyone was picking on me. And then he’d run back inside the house and stab Kevin to death with his own butter knife.

    But that’s not what happens.

    What happens is he just sits there. Watching me. Then slowly his mouth contorts into one of his smirks—our inside-joke grin—waiting for me to reciprocate, to give him a sign, or just start laughing like maybe I’m trying to secretly make fun of our parents. He’s waiting to get it. But he doesn’t get it. So he just shrugs, looks back down at his plate, and lops off a big slice of pancake. The bullet lodges itself a little deeper in my stomach as I stand there, frozen in the hallway.

    “Seriously, what are you staring at?” he mumbles with his mouth full of pancake, in that familiar brotherly, you’re-the-stupidest-person-on-the-face-of-the-earth tone he had perfected over the years.

    Meanwhile, Kevin barely even glances up. No threatening looks. No gestures of warning, nothing. As if nothing had even happened. The same cool disregard he always used with me. Like I’m still just Caelin’s dorky little sister with bad hair and freckles, freshman band-geek nobody, tagging along behind them, clarinet case in tow. But I’m not her anymore. I don’t even want to be her anymore. That girl who was so naive and stupid—the kind of girl who could let something like this happen to her.

    “Come on, Minnie,” Dad says to me, using my pet name. Minnie as in Mouse, because I was so quiet. He gestured at the food on the table. “Sit down. Everything’s getting cold.”

    As I stand in front of them—their Mousegirl—crooked glasses sliding down the bridge of my nose, stripped before eight scrutinizing eyes waiting for me to play my part, I finally realize what it’s all been about. The previous fourteen years had merely been dress rehearsal, preparation for knowing how to properly shut up now. And Kevin had told me, with his lips almost touching mine he whispered the words: You’re gonna keep your mouth shut. Last night it was an order, a command, but today it’s just the truth.

    I push my glasses up. And with a sickness in my stomach—something like stage fright—I move slowly, cautiously. Try to act like every part of my body, inside and out, isn’t throbbing and pulsing. I sit down in the seat next to Kevin like I had at countless family meals. Because we considered him part of our family, Mom was always saying it, over and over. He was always welcome. Always.

  • Reading Group Guide

    A Reading Group Guide for

    The Way I Used to Be

    By Amber Smith

    Book Description

    For most of her life, Eden has been a shy, dorky girl whose life is simple and unremarkable. Her life revolves around her family, her clarinet, and her small circle of friends, until one day, her brother’s best friend, who is like family, assaults her, and Eden realizes her life will never be the same. She changes her appearance so that people see her in a new way. She vows never to be the shy, quiet Edy who felt so defenseless that day. Eden cannot go back and change that night, but she can change what happens next.

    Discussion Questions

    1.) The morning after Eden is raped, she is hesitant to tell her mother. What did Kevin tell Eden to discourage her from telling anyone? What about her mother’s tone makes Eden change her mind? Discuss what might have happened if Eden’s mother had been a more supportive listener.

    2.) Eden and the guy she calls “Number 12” crash into each other in the hallway, and Eden has a strong reaction. Describe Eden’s thought process after their encounter. What word(s) does she use to capture how she is feeling? The reader is given no reason to believe that Number 12 bumped into her on purpose, so discuss why Eden reacts this way.

    3.) Near the end of her freshman year, Eden decides to start standing up for herself, beginning with her parents, because “it was with them that it began.” What began with her parents? Do you think it is possible for her to stand up for herself and win her parents’ approval?

    4.) During the beginning of her sophomore year, Eden discovers that “All you have to do is act like you’re normal and okay, and people start treating you that way.” Predict what will happen if she continues to act like she is okay without dealing with her underlying emotional issues.

    5.) Mara asks Edy if she is afraid that Joshua Miller will want to have sex with her. What does Edy actually fear, and how does she decide to address her fear moving forward? Do you think that her method of coping might be common among rape victims?

    6.) Eden describes how Josh and Kevin talk differently. How is Josh’s voice different from Kevin’s, and how does Eden interpret this difference? What exactly does Eden mean when she says that “everything about him is different”?

    7.) Eden admits that something about Josh makes her “want, so badly, to be vulnerable.” Why does she resist becoming vulnerable with Josh? Rather than open up to him, what does she do instead? How is Eden’s struggle with balancing control and vulnerability evident in future relationships?

    8.) Josh says that his father is “basically a good dad, but then there’s this thing that, like, controls him.” How does he define a “good” dad? What is the thing to which he refers? Do you agree that Josh’s dad is still basically good, despite this particular flaw?

    9.) Eden tells Josh the story of when she fell off her bike when she was twelve. Reread the conversations she remembers having with Mara that day, and look for details that exemplify Eden and Mara’s childhood innocence. Then, describe how Eden is forced to grow up after being raped by Kevin.

    10.) Interpret the following quotation: “I don’t know who I am right now. But I know who I’m not. And I like that.” Who is Eden “not” anymore? What did her dad used to call her when she was younger, and why does Eden resent that nickname now?

    11.) Eden describes in detail what happened the night Kevin raped her. Why does she tell the story in third person? What effect does this point of view have on the reader? How might Eden’s story and response to being raped seem different if the author told the story from another character’s point of view?

    12.) Eden explains how she picks out guys at parties. Discuss how Eden thinks of her own sexual behavior and compare that with the reputation she has at school. Why does Eden choose to have multiple partners, and how is her behavior viewed by her peers?

    13.) How do the characters in the story view Eden? How do Amanda and Steve describe her? Do their descriptions differ? Why?

    14.) At the beginning of Part 4, Eden begins referring to her parents by their first names instead of Mom and Dad. What brings about this change? Discuss the significance of this change, keeping in mind how her relationship with her parents has changed throughout high school. Will she revert to Mom and Dad when she gets older?

    15.) Amanda and Eden’s relationship is tense, but they have a very open and honest conversation during Eden’s senior year. What does Amanda reveal to Eden? What did Kevin say happened between him and Eden? Discuss how Amanda and Eden’s relationship evolves throughout the story.

    16.) After Eden tells her story to the police, what does Detective Dorian Dodgson say to comfort her? How does Eden react to this statement? Do you think Eden’s trust in the police is common for young women in her situation?

    17.) Describe Eden’s relationship with her brother, Caelin, and how it changes as the story unfolds. Does Eden feel safe discussing her feelings with her brother? Why or why not? How does Caelin respond to Eden’s rape? Does he feel guilty?

    Extension Activities

    1.) Find an organization in your area that does outreach for victims of sexual assault. Talk to someone from the organization to understand what signs rape victims may exhibit and how to help. Ask whether your community has a crisis helpline that can be used if someone wants to report an assault. Report back to your group your findings either by preparing a short talk or writing a short paper.

    2.) Search for articles in the news about sexual assault on college campuses. Have students summarize and present their findings to the class. Visit a local university to see how school counselors and campus health services can serve as a resource for rape victims. Discuss in small groups the kind of information upcoming college freshman boys and girls need to know as they prepare for college.

    3.) Research what happens to people in your community who are struggling with addiction. Contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, and see what other community groups support recovering addicts and alcoholics. Find out whether there are groups that specifically help teens, and volunteer to help them for a day. Be prepared to discuss in a group or in class your experience and what you learned.

    4.) Interview a marriage and family therapist or a social worker to learn more about how to address sexual abuse in children. What does a therapy session consist of? How are parents involved in the treatment process? Learn what the long-term social, emotional, and behavioral effects can be for children who do not receive the therapy or counseling that they need. Prepare a short presentation for your class or a small group.

    Guide written by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

    This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

    Customer Reviews

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    The Way I Used to Be 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I can't put into words how much I think this book must be read by everyone. It's a realistic story about what really goes through a rape victims mind. I really hope it gets the recognition it deserves.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was just an astonishing piece. Every little detail was just very good. There was Eden the main character who gets raped and eventually survives the whole story. I wouldn't know how to handle that better than what she did.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book had me in tears. I could not put the book down. It is probably one of the best books I've ever read. I highly recommend it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is so amazing I finished it in three days!! I couldn’t stop reading the last day I stayed up til three in the morning reading and I don’t regret a single thing??
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was something so unimaginably real, it captured the moment of each page. Reading this novel felt incredibly honest, not leaving a trace of truth behind any of the experiences Edy had to go through. The way the author explains the thoughts flowing through Edens mind every time she so as to thinks about that night, is so raw and touched my heart. Relating to characters so deeply is something that comes close to rare. Happening to find this book was nothing short of a small miracle for me. And hopefully others will find the book, although delicate subject material, an astonishing read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I can't relate to Eden's story of sexual assault, in fact I don't even know how I came across this book in the first place, but I can relate to a girl who is hiding away inside herself trying to face the world alone without trust. That is why I read the book initially and honestly in my opinion I think a lot of girls with and with out the experience of sexual assault could relate to this book on different levels as we see Eden experience anxiety, depressing, not knowing her true self worth, coping, finding trust again.. and all in all teaching us all that it's ok to be scared but it's to ask for help too.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very graphic in parts
    MelissaGorzela More than 1 year ago
    I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book! All the feels! There were moments reading it when I felt Eden's pain/terror/regret/anger so strongly, it was like being right by her side. Her teenage experiences felt real and honest. In a way, this book was a window that allowed me to understand why teenagers act out about seemingly silly things--chores, for instance. This book shares such an important message. That's it's never too late to change your mind. That you have the right to change your mind. That not saying anything doesn't mean you've decided. And the writing! The writing was powerful and gorgeous. An exceptional debut by a very talented author. Add The Way I Used to Be to your to-read list right away!
    HSMeloche More than 1 year ago
    Sometimes, minutes change a whole life. For Eden, her innocence is blown apart when Kevin, her brother's best friend, comes into her room in the middle of the night and violently molests her. The rape shifts her entire world and sense of self upside-down and inside-out. The book follows Eden through the time of her rape during her freshman year of high school into her senior year, showing how the good, clarinet-playing, book-reading girl she once was is transformed into the mess of a girl with a terrible secret she's afraid to tell. Amber Smith's book is hard-hitting and emotionally wrenching. It's an extremely important book for young women and men, as well, as it expertly builds the narrative of how violence forced upon one affects so many.
    SMParker More than 1 year ago
    Amber Smith’s story about the lasting, haunting effects of sexual assault is both brilliantly written and brilliantly executed. This book explores the issues of trust and sexuality and sexual violation. Throughout the pages, Smith’s main character struggles with ownership of her own body. Her sexuality. Her female voice. Her need to speak up in a culture of silence. This story held me in its clutches and did not let go. The power of Smith’s debut will respectfully add to conversations of sexual violence that need to happened, and surely help spark dialogue that can’t be silenced.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    THE WAY I USED TO BE is a powerhouse of a story - raw, tragic, and disturbing in the main character's complete free fall in the aftermath of rape. Unable to tell anyone and surrounded by family members who are grossly oblivious, we witness the following three and a half years of high school. Smith is a fabulous writer and captures perfectly the doubt, self-denial and self hatred of Eden. Despite Eden's frightening and horrific downward spiral, this is a story of hope, of taking back control and most importantly of self-reliance. Fast paced and gripping, this is an excellent book! Highly recommended!
    WriterGirl More than 1 year ago
    This powerful, moving debut literally gutted me. It is such an important read that is sure to help so many teens, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to read it as part of Amber's ARC tour. The writing is haunting and lyrical, the pacing is flawless, and you can't help but feel this one to the core of your soul. It's a tough read emotionally, but a worthwhile one, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    From the opening line of Amber Smith's stellar debut, I knew this was going to be an important and brave story. After the main character, Eden, is raped by her brother's best friend, the novel tracks the wide swath of trauma that remains. Smith uses tense and structure to expose trauma for what it really is: rather than an urgent one-time event, it's a struggle that unfolds over years. This is a compelling and heartbreaking story, and I can't wait to see what Amber Smith writes next. I will be the first in line to get a copy!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read THE WAY I USED TO BE in 2-3 sittings. It was one of those books where when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about wanting to read it to find out what was happening. I felt such sympathy for Eden and can see why she changed so dramatically after she was raped by her brother's best friend, and why she was afraid to tell anyone, for fear that he would kill her. Amber Smith wrote such realistic scenes of what it was like to be a teenager, I felt for what Eden was going through. Although there were times I wanted to scream at her to do something different, but then THE WAY I USED TO BE wouldn't be the book it is. I loved, loved, loved her friendship with Mara -- it was so true to life in the way that best friends are. I absolutely hated her parents so much and could see the relationship as it was, and I can totally understand everything about the way Eden behaved the way she did -- acting out, and turning into the person she became. She put up a wall, became a different person. While this is definitely a five-star book for me, because I did love it and I loved the format of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior year, I do wish that there was something more to the ending. Of course I'm not going to give it away, and I completely, COMPLETELY understand why Amber Smith took the route she did, because it was the right ending on so many levels, but selfishly I wanted something different, I would have liked … well, I can't give THAT away. LOL. But also, I do wish there might have been a big confrontation as well. I wanted someone beat up! Someone deserved to be beaten up! Really badly, by more than one other person in the novel. I can imagine that's what happened, right!? Aside from that tiny wish of mine, THE WAY I USED TO BE tackles a really sensitive and tough issue that I sadly believe happens more often than is discussed -- I think rape with someone a person knows happens way too often, and young girls and women blame themselves, or are too scared to tell anyone, and they live with the fear and the guilt and the shame of this huge secret. It needs to be told. The only one who needs to be blamed is the rapist. Amber Smith does an amazing job at shedding light on an issue that needs to be discussed more openly in our society.
    BoundlessBookaholic More than 1 year ago
    This was a really good book that focused on a very emotional topic i.e. rape. There were parts that my heart felt like it was breaking while I was reading. Based on other’s reactions, I expected to cry a bit more. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Thank you Edelweiss for providing me a copy in exchange for a honest review. I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. This book was my choice for last week’s Waiting on Wednesday. It’s been on my radar for a while, so I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. The book was close to being 5 stars, but there were a few things that I questioned/didn’t particularly love. One thing I kept wondering about was why Eden was only 14 in her sophomore year of high school, and only 17 when she was in her senior year. Did she skip a year? Another thing I didn’t particularly love was how far Eden had “fallen” in a sense. But I could still understand why she did to a certain extent. The summary and amazing cover is what made me first want to read the book. I thought it was interesting to cram all four years of high school into one book. Some years felt a little light compared to others, but overall it seemed like Amber did a great job spreading Eden’s life out through the years. Throughout reading, I felt bad for Eden and what she went through. Another thing that disappointed me a little was that I wanted to see the a-hole responsible for the bad things sentenced and punished; just a mention of it would have given me satisfaction. I’m just glad that Amber wasn’t afraid to go to some dark places with the book, since rape is such a terrible issue our society faces. Eden made a lot of bad choices because of what happened to her, because she buried the horrible truth inside. There wasn't really romance in the book, because of what Eden endured. But I did like Josh's character; he was one of the high points in the book for me. I mean besides Eden finally getting a bit of closure, and when she stood up for herself. Overall, the ending was good. I mostly made observations on Goodreads, but I did write down this line: "All these maybes swimming around my head make me think that “maybe” could just be another word for hope." Final note: A great book, that I highly recommend, if you’re not afraid of a slightly darker theme. I’m so glad I had a chance to read this one.
    MarisaR More than 1 year ago
    Eden has been struggling ever since the night her older brother’s friend changed her life forever. She struggles to regain control of her voice and her body. She struggles with her relationships with friends and family. In a poignant and powerful examination of the long-term effects of sexual assault, THE WAY I USED TO BE brilliantly unfolds over the course of four years of high school. It is a story so raw and so honest that I found myself emotionally drained in every good way after closing the final page. A beautiful and powerful story of redemption, hope, and healing that brought me to tears. A must read.
    QuinnenDonnelly More than 1 year ago
    How would you respond to something so unexpected, so horrifying, that it throws your whole world off-kilter? This powerful debut explores this question as its protagonist Eden moves from freshman year, in which she is raped by her older brother's best friend, through to her senior year. Written in four parts (one for each year of high school), we watch as Eden tries to reclaim some semblance of herself, forging a new identity, knowing that she can't go back to the person she was before. It's almost viscerally painful, at times, to see Eden struggle with the new identity she's created for herself, after having been robbed of her old identity. And yet, it's a gift -- truly a gift -- to watch as Eden finds a way out -- a most unexpected way out, really. As I read this book, I was reminded of a song from the musical Waitress: "She Used to Be Mine." It asks some of those some questions, too, of how we can get back to the people we used to be? (This is my shorthand for saying, this song makes me cry, and yes, this book did too.)
    Anonymous 12 months ago
    In the book, The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith, the main character is named Eden. She played in her school band and was thought to be ugly by her classmates until she is raped by her brother’s very popular best friend, Kevin Armstrong. She felt so ugly after the rape that she changed her appearance to look better, quit band, hid the rape from everyone, and started a book club to distance herself from classmates. The book takes you through Eden’s freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years in high school. Throughout those years, Eden exemplified heartbreak with her first love named Josh and her best friend Mara putting her in more agony. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre of drama. This novel would appeal to a person who understands trauma and might be in high school or beyond. It reminded me of 13 Reasons Why due to the rape and like the book, it illustrates pain incredibly well. The author really grasps the effects of rape and teens these days which is interesting. I enjoyed how the book takes you through the growth of Eden and how it is so realistic, however, I did not really appreciate at times how the book can drag on about useless things and it could be repetitive at times which bored me.
    JMTJTC More than 1 year ago
    “I don't know who I am right now. But I know who I'm not. And I like that.” Genre: Young Adult Contemporary. Number of Pages: 367. Perspective: First. The book starts with a freshman, Eden, getting raped by her brother’s best friend. We see her change over the course of her four years in high school in the aftermath of the assault. We see how her friendships and relationships are impacted. This is without a doubt the best book I have read in a long time. I gave it my Best Book Award, but I would give it more than that if I could. I stayed up until 3 am finishing this one through tears. The very first page starts with the raw account of the sexual assault. I had to stop and reread the first page three days in a row before I could move on. It was the most powerful, spine-chilling first page I have ever read. I know this book was inspired by Speak. It was similar, but I think it stepped it up a few more notches for the older teen crowd. Speak was a little more PG, where this was PG-13 to R. There were so many times I wanted to scream through the pages and tell the main character to stop. But the strength of this story is that she is flawed and damaged. We see the long-term aftermath of her rape. It slowly deteriorates her over several years. It felt very realistic. And that made it even harder to read. To read my full review, go here:
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    One of the best books i have read in a while. I loved this book so much. Could not put this book down finished in 2 days
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    this is my all-time favorite book. it is personal, showing everyone the mindset of someone being a victim, and not being able to tell anyone. i loved every second of it. the book will keep you on your toes at all time, and there is never a dull moment. you have to set time aside to read this book. trust me, you will want to read it in one sitting. good luck! and i hope you read it!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. It is so raw and emotional, and It's written so well. You feel every emotion that the main character feels throughout the story. I'd definitely recommend reading this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Favorite book!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Absolutely incredible. MUST READ!!!!
    booookworm More than 1 year ago
    this book was so hard for me to read. when you read this book you feel everything that Eden is feeling. honestly everyone should have to read this book so that they understand what it is like to go through something like that. It's not easy and watching Eden get through this was so hard but she did it and so can anyone else.