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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Way I Used to Be

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    I seem to be in the minority on this one. There are many thoughts running around in my head about this book and it's hard to decide how to write a review without sounding completely insensitive. If this were a real life account of a rape survivor, then things would be different. Every survivor has their own story to tell, each equally valid, and they don't owe anyone an interesting, convincing account of it. Fiction, though, is a little bit different. I've read many books about teenage girls who w I seem to be in the minority on this one. There are many thoughts running around in my head about this book and it's hard to decide how to write a review without sounding completely insensitive. If this were a real life account of a rape survivor, then things would be different. Every survivor has their own story to tell, each equally valid, and they don't owe anyone an interesting, convincing account of it. Fiction, though, is a little bit different. I've read many books about teenage girls who were raped, from the classic Speak, to last year's harrowing tale of how a girl is let down by everyone around her - All the Rage, to the recent book about a girl with a strong support network - Exit, Pursued by a Bear. These books are incredibly important for fostering discussion about rape, its aftermath, and the way we treat rape victims. The Way I Used to Be, however, adds nothing but more paper to the pile. It's about another white girl living in a white world, who is raped and proceeds on a downward spiral towards sex, drugs and self-hatred. The novel's major selling point is that it looks at the aftereffects of rape over four years - freshman year, sophomore year, etc. - and yet this opportunity is wasted on a story lacking any real depth. Though it promises a look at a rape survivor over time, it instead skips important plot points that shows the gradual downslide (like when Eden started calling her parents by their names and not "Mom" and "Dad"), preferring to skip to the angst. Rose wrote a great positive review for this book and I just wanted to borrow her comparison to Ellen Hopkins. Hopkins is a much-loved author, but after liking one of her books, I soon started seeing them as torture porn. And I still think Hopkins's stories and characters do not have any depth, do not explore new areas or challenge you to think - they are one long misery ride through increasingly atrocious events (rape followed by drug abuse followed by their mom dying...). This book is a bit like that. The Way I Used to Be is four years, 380 pages, of one unfortunate event after another. Eden is raped, her parents give her shit, her brother turns against her, she constantly freezes and break downs, her friends just don't get it, she starts sleeping around to distract herself, she gets called a slut and whore... And here is where I risk sounding insensitive. Because how dare I suggest that Eden goes through too much negative shit? Shouldn't this book show the horrible reality? Yes! Absolutely, yes! It should. But a series of terrible events does not make a good book. It honestly felt quite emotionless. Eden exists in a vacuum of her own thoughts (understandable, but it might have made a better third person story) and no other character is developed. Her relationships with her family and friends are one-dimensional and those characters all blend into the background. I just don't think this book does anything new, or offers a different and interesting perspective. And, given that there are many rape survivor experiences out there still waiting to be told, it's a little disappointing to read this. Many books do what this book does... but better. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma Giordano

    I feel as if the best way to describe this book is the unforgettable experience I had listening to the last 3 hours of the audiobook at 1:30 in the morning in the pitch dark while bawling my eyes out and completely unable to breathe. It was THAT amazing. CW: rape *graphic* (Additionally, there is quite a lot of -consensual- sex and substance use throughout the novel) The Way I Used To Be is a fantastic portrayal of trauma. I cannot remember the last time I had such an intense, emotional response t I feel as if the best way to describe this book is the unforgettable experience I had listening to the last 3 hours of the audiobook at 1:30 in the morning in the pitch dark while bawling my eyes out and completely unable to breathe. It was THAT amazing. CW: rape *graphic* (Additionally, there is quite a lot of -consensual- sex and substance use throughout the novel) The Way I Used To Be is a fantastic portrayal of trauma. I cannot remember the last time I had such an intense, emotional response to a book, especially one that is not a part of a series that I had already been invested in. I wanted SO BADLY for Eden to tell someone what had happened to her, more than I think I have ever wanted a character to do ANYTHING. Eden’s story is raw, unflinching, emotional, powerful, and so so real. This book is not for the faint of heart – it is gritty and destructive, yet moving. As this book is told over the course of four years (a bold choice for a standalone young adult contemporary novel), I thought it was executed fabulously. Eden’s voice and personality changes naturally across the four year span, transitioning from a young teenager to an almost adult woman. It was evident to me throughout the entire story that Eden was constantly growing despite having more development demanded in a shorter number of pages compared to many books, and I can only imagine how difficult that must be for an author to accomplish. I will say, this is not a very plot-heavy novel. The beginning starts off with a moment of HIGH intensity, but I found some parts of the middle of the novel to be less engaging up until the end of the story where I basically listened to the last 5 hours of the audiobook in almost one sitting. This is definitely a novel driven by characterization, which is not normally what I prefer, but it was done so well that I fell victim to it’s unwavering charm. I also really enjoyed the writing style of the novel. While there were certain moments where I was somewhat unimpressed, other scenes had me blown away by the prose. Eden is a fascinating, wonderful character. I struggled so much with her in the beginning of the novel, but I feel she challenged me as a person due to this. She consistently hurts people who care for her, creates many more problems for herself, and makes so many horrible decisions as being raped begins to alter her perception of the world. I had such a difficult time loving her in the beginning because of all her harmful actions, but I had to keep reminding myself that this is an expression of trauma and while people must take responsibility for their actions, I should not pass such harsh judgement on someone who is responding to such a horrific event that will have changed her life forever. Eden’s characterization is so powerful and authentic, and her development is so well constructed throughout the story that I never could have expected to love her as much as I did by the conclusion of the novel. I am so appreciative to Eden for opening my eyes to an experience unique to her and many other survivors of sexual assault and her story is not one I will forget any time soon. I feel as if I have so few words that truly encompass how remarkable this novel is. I feel changed by Eden’s story, it is one I will carry with me for an immensely long time. To my followers that love complex, dark, gritty contemporary novels, I cannot recommend this one enough.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    A single act can change your life forever. In Eden's case, the five minutes in which she was raped send her into a spiral of desperation and despair, so that there are times when she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. This book is divided into four sections, each one following a different school year. Freshman year, which shows the crime and immediate aftermath, is the most well-written one. While the pages kept turning because I wanted to find out what happened to Eden, the later sections A single act can change your life forever. In Eden's case, the five minutes in which she was raped send her into a spiral of desperation and despair, so that there are times when she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. This book is divided into four sections, each one following a different school year. Freshman year, which shows the crime and immediate aftermath, is the most well-written one. While the pages kept turning because I wanted to find out what happened to Eden, the later sections don't feel quite as satisfying or complete, either plot-wise or on an emotional level. Still, I'd recommend this one because it effectively puts you into the immediacy of Eden's emotions--the pain, shame, and fear, as well as the feeling that you've been damaged beyond repair. And that you are unworthy, undeserving, and unlikely to ever be treated with respect and tenderness. Whatever he thinks that I am, I'm not. And whatever he thinks my body is, it isn't. My body is a torture chamber. It's a fucking crime scene. This story also touches on other important aspects of sexual violence: how it affects more than the people directly involved, how it changes the way you relate to everyone around you, and how it perpetuates until it is stopped. And perhaps most importantly, stories like these are a reminder that we rarely know what's happened in other people's lives, and what has driven them to drink, to sleep around, or to betray friendships. I hope boys especially are encouraged to read this, and that the book helps to reshape the dialogue about trying to understand--and being compassionate about--those around us, even if and especially when they're behaving in ways that are hard to understand. (Eden endures a shit ton of slut-shaming, both casual and threatening.) Anger, acting out, promiscuity, and changes in behavior are often triggered by traumatic events, and seeing the warning signs and trying to act upon them might help someone in desperate need of kindness. Two last things: 1. While there were a fair number of loose ends and some plot threads that could have been better developed (I don't need everything tied up, btw, some aspects were just crying out to be further explored) I appreciated that the story does not end (view spoiler)[with Eden being rescued by a boy--and she realizes she has to save herself (hide spoiler)] . 2. I'll echo the author's resource note at the end and include the free hotline for the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE. If you need someone, please know help is available and confidential. 3.5 stars Bumped up in stars because it's an important subject and portrays some things very well. It's not a perfect book, but it's well worth reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    elena

    ❝As the girl closes her eyes, she was thinking of him. Thinking that maybe he was thinking of her, too. But he wasn't thinking of her in that way. He was holding her in the palm of his hand, wrapping her around his fingers, one at a time, twisting and molding and bending her brain.❞ Rating: 4/5 ✩ “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 bei ❝As the girl closes her eyes, she was thinking of him. Thinking that maybe he was thinking of her, too. But he wasn't thinking of her in that way. He was holding her in the palm of his hand, wrapping her around his fingers, one at a time, twisting and molding and bending her brain.❞ Rating: 4/5 ✩ “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.” What's it about? The Way I Used To Be is a strong, beautifully written yet sad story that follows the story of a young girl named Eden. She was only 14 when she was raped by her brother's best friend, at around 2 in the morning, not being able to do anything, not being able to scream, scream for help, help her own self just because she was scared. She had a strong connection with her brother's best friend, Kevin, that night before. So maybe that was what lead to all this? Or maybe Kevin is just an asshole that likes to take fourteen year old's virginities. Eden's life completely changes told in 4 point of views - Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and then Senior year. Every year has a different story to tell of Eden. Every year is a year where she changes, either it's a good change or a bad change. The people she used to love, she hates, including her best friend Mara, her 'friend' Steven, her parents, and even her brother, who turns his back against her, not trying to defend her, not knowing the right thing to do until the end. Freshman Year Eden is that innocent, geek, book and band nerd like in all school's. She's the girl that loves books, her clarinet, her best friend. She's the girl with the good grades and enjoys going to her school's library to hide her thoughts and not be seen by anyone else. That's the beginning. Sophomore Year Eden is still 14 but she's almost 15. She meets this guy, Joshua Miller, who she ends up falling in love with and well, so does he. The problem is, he's a senior, 18, and she's only 14, still a sophomore. She knew about him, he didn't know about her. That's the problem. He talks to her and falls in love with her, evens asks her to be his girlfriend. The reason why he was still in love with her, trying to take her on a date was because she lied to him saying she was 16. 16 is only 2 years apart, but 14 is 4...Should age really matter? Junior Year Oh Eden. The sweet, little, smart innocent Eden is no longer that Eden. She's no longer that kid. She's now this badass and tough girl who can be considered a...Whore? Slut? Well, she sleeps with guys she doesn't even know. She climbs into bed with them after seeing him at a party, telling him he doesn't have to talk and to just get to the point of having sex with her. Senior Year ❝I've been with about fifteen guys now.❞ Okay Eden we get it. You're the girl who puts on make-up and looks totally different and older than she is who hooks up with any guy, smokes cigarettes, tells her parents she hates them, misses her ex-boyfriend, argues with her best friend and doesn't give a shit after seeing her cry at your locker as you were pretending to organize it, looking at your books and then suddenly walking away as she tried to hide her tears. The Way I Used To Be was a strong, cute in some ways, and sad story following this girl's story. It's sad how after everything happened, once it was over, she didn't even realize it was morning and her mom was calling her, telling her breakfast is ready. She wasn't ready to get up, go to the kitchen, and then see Kevin sitting there, looking at her with that look of his like if he was about to tell her Say something and I'll kill you. I'll fucking kill you! Oh wait, he did! Ever since I picked this book up and read the first page, literally the first 4 lines or so, I wanted to put it back down and not pick it up again. I can't tell if that's a bad thing, or a good thing but, I picked it back up and continued reading. It tore me, it tore me and my small little heart knowing how nobody believed her, nobody really showed like they cared, nobody tried asking her what was really wrong! until finally, Josh did. Oh Josh... Their relationship sounded so cute even though she was 14 and he was 18, man I want a boyfriend like that not gonna lie. Well, not only having sex but like having pizza, watching movies, lying down on the floor, talking until 3 AM not even noticing what time it is and what else is happening. wow now I'm sad... Why 4 stars? Why not 5 stars? Honestly, I would've given this book a 5 star rating but the problem is, I couldn't and that won't change because this isn't a series, or this book doesn't follow another book so, here I am left with questions waiting to be answered. (view spoiler)[What happens when she tells her parents? Will her brother really be there to support her? What will happen with Kevin? What will happen with Amanda? Will the police arrest Kevin for rape? Will he be pressed charges for sexual assault? Will Mara forgive Eden? Will Eden even try to talk to Mara? Will Josh and Eden really just stay as friends, or get back together? Will Eden go to college? ADASBFK! Man, I hate finishing books and then I just close the book and ask myself all these questions I have, trying to answer them life if I knew. (hide spoiler)] Well, I guess that's what books do to you. Leave you in pain at times, in an emotional wreck, or emotional mess. Leave you with tears in your eyes. Leave you with a black hole finding it's way to tear your heart. Final and overall thoughts? I don't know man, but this book will be one of my favs. Even though I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, it's such a great book! I could re-read it over and over again, falling to pieces again, trying to put them back together every time I read those sad lines that just made me want to scream so loud and !!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)

    See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from Amazon Vine. Old pre-review that somehow got 41 likes: (view spoiler)[It looks like I get to be the black sheep yet again. I'm mad. Really mad. The book is Eden's downward spiral into a girl who sleeps around trying to forget the trauma of her rape and replace that touch with someone else's touch. I have no problems with that and I am 100% there for Eden as someone who has been the victim of a sexual crime (mine was abuse inste See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from Amazon Vine. Old pre-review that somehow got 41 likes: (view spoiler)[It looks like I get to be the black sheep yet again. I'm mad. Really mad. The book is Eden's downward spiral into a girl who sleeps around trying to forget the trauma of her rape and replace that touch with someone else's touch. I have no problems with that and I am 100% there for Eden as someone who has been the victim of a sexual crime (mine was abuse instead of assault, though). I know how hard it can be in the aftermath of your brother's best friend violating you. It's hard to tell anyone, especially your family because they love him so much. Never once did I dislike Eden and I still want to take her to my bosom and make everything better for her. She's why the book gets one star instead of no stars at all. But I'm sick and tired of the "damaged girl" narrative. If a victim of sexual abuse/assault isn't dominated by her fear, she's dominated by her determination to "write over" the rapist's trauma on her body via sleeping around. There are so many more experiences than that, but those are the only two I ever see represented. If I'd read more in the 2 years after my own sexual abuse, I would have thought those were the only ways to respond--and my response via erratic behavior and simultaneous hypersexuality/fear of intimacy was a pretty toxic one for me in the first place, but my family has a lot to do with that thanks to their shitty response. This book was the one to finally make me tired of that narrative after books upon books of the same formula with mildly different spins. We are not damaged. We are survivors and more often than not, we get better whether it's through therapy, seeing our abuser go through court, or we find our own way out. Do more than give us 20 pages of us finally getting better after 300+ pages of us being damaged. The story itself has its own issues such as weak characterization and the timeskips through her four years of high school result in a lot of probably-important scenes being lost. For instance, the moment Eden went from calling her parents by their names instead of Mom and Dad. That's a pivotal moment in a character's development, but all I know is it happened sometime between her junior and senior years. The Way I Used To Be utterly failed to live up to its potential. I'm so angry I'm crying. (hide spoiler)] Proper review: Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity? Racial-Ethnic: 0 QUILTBAG: 0 Disability: 0 Intersectionality: 0 I shouldn’t hate this book nearly as much as I do. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I empathize deeply with Eden’s post-rape trauma, especially because both of us suffered at the hands of our brother’s best friend. Beyond that, though? Things are so horribly handled and written that I cried in anger. Smith takes a premise that should promise a new narrative for rape survivors and does fuck-all with it by writing the same narrow, tropey story we’re tired of reading. The problem is the overarching narrative, not Eden and her first-person point of view. By page 16, you’ll want to murder everyone around her and hold her in your arms like a child too precious for this cruel world. She’s in deep pain from beginning to end and rape survivors who responded with hypersexuality and rebellion in the aftermath will recognize themselves in her. Her story is valid. All that said, what’s my issue? The other characters may be shallow and the pacing off, but that should be the end of it if Eden’s story is valid, right? WRONG. All stories of survival, whether individual or group, are valid. But at the end of the day, Eden is a fictional character. Narratives like hers shape how real people think of and treat rape survivors and make people think “Oh, they must not really be a rape victim because _______” if they don’t act like Eden or countless other other fictional characters who survived rape. They reinforce misconceptions instead of bringing attention to the fact survivors react in more than just a handful of ways. Few SA/A novels cover as wide a period of time as The Way I Used to Be does. Four years! Most novels will cover a few months of the aftermath or a year at the most. This extended timeline, however, goes to waste. Four years can span the time from crime to trial or from abuse to the beginning of healing, but Eden’s four years are one long downward spiral with significant events omitted. For instance, at some point between the end of her junior year and the start of her senior year, Eden begins referring to her parents by their names instead of Mom and Dad. Why? What did they do, if anything? What happened? There’s no worth in Smith’s premise of showing the long-term effects of rape if such turning-point moments in Eden’s life remain unwritten. So even with the extended-timeline draw Smith fails to utilize to its full potential, this is just another forgettable SA/A novel that acts like responses other than fear or hypersexuality don’t happen. Survivors who didn’t react either way (like me) are yet again alienated and ignored in SA/A survival narratives. I can name three novels off the top of my head that follow all the same paths and hit all the same notes. It’s an unoriginal novel about an experience so varied writers should never run out of new narratives to introduce the world to. We are not tropes. In short, nothing is wrong with Eden. Everything is wrong with this book. Skip The Way I Used to Be.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Flynn

    It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words, because, well, I’m a writer, and usually I have too many words for any given situation. But after finishing this book, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t find words big enough to describe how brilliant, beautiful, and powerful it is. Those words just don’t seem to do it justice. None do. Amber Smith’s talent is immense. Her writing is searing, raw, courageous, deep. Her words cut, pound, take away your air supply, make you realize you’re not breathi It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words, because, well, I’m a writer, and usually I have too many words for any given situation. But after finishing this book, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t find words big enough to describe how brilliant, beautiful, and powerful it is. Those words just don’t seem to do it justice. None do. Amber Smith’s talent is immense. Her writing is searing, raw, courageous, deep. Her words cut, pound, take away your air supply, make you realize you’re not breathing. Eden’s story is not an easy one to read. After her brother’s best friend—someone she thought she trusted, someone she once thought she loved—rapes her, Eden buries the truth, along with the person she used to be. The whole time I was reading, it wasn’t like I was reading a character—it was like Eden was a real person. And in many ways, she is. She is a girl carrying around the weight of something horrible, something unimaginable, and trying desperately to show to the outside world that it never happened, that she simply doesn’t want to go back to the way that she used to be, not that she can’t go back. Eden’s hurt is palpable. It radiated off the pages and so many times, I wanted to hug her and tell her she’s worthy of love, she’s worthy of good things, that people will believe her if she tells them the truth. I thought, on so many occasions, how many girls we know in real life are carrying around truths they want to forget? How can we help them? This book also deals with slut-shaming, which was handled in such a heartbreakingly true-to-life way. Nobody knew what Eden was going through, so they slapped labels on her, because it was easier that way. But in doing so, they made those labels something Eden could slip into, a way she could distance herself from the girl she used to be. People don’t realize that words not only cause permanent damage, but they can alter the course of a person’s life. The fact that Eden’s story was told in four parts—one for each year of high school—allowed the reader to see that nothing goes away. Trauma and pain and anger and regret and sadness don’t just retreat to be buried by other feelings. They simmer right under the surface like a second pulse. What happened to Eden doesn’t fade as she gets older. It takes on new shapes, ones with sharp edges, ones that cut and flay and destroy any sense of confidence she might have had. Stories like Eden’s need to be told. They need to be told more than once. Books like this need to exist. And stories like this, stories this sensitive and courageous and breathtaking, need to be told by authors as tremendously talented as Amber Smith, authors who aren’t afraid to channel all of the emotions, all of the devastation, authors who can be both fragile and bold. By far one of the best books I’ve read this year. By far, one of the books I won’t stop thinking about.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I had a hard time rating this book. I decided on three starts which still means I liked the book. I just really had a hard time with this one. I hate what Edy had to go through as a 14-year-old child. It was hard to read, it always is, it's hard to go through, it always is for the innocent one. I just really had a hard time with her not telling her mom right then, when she walked in the door that morning. So many of these kids are afraid to say anything, they don't think anyone will believe them I had a hard time rating this book. I decided on three starts which still means I liked the book. I just really had a hard time with this one. I hate what Edy had to go through as a 14-year-old child. It was hard to read, it always is, it's hard to go through, it always is for the innocent one. I just really had a hard time with her not telling her mom right then, when she walked in the door that morning. So many of these kids are afraid to say anything, they don't think anyone will believe them. Especially if it's someone popular, someone in the family, a family friend, etc. But she had all of the evidence right there... right there..... I wanted to scream for her to call the cops and scream at her mom. Her parents were NOT very good to her, at least it seemed that way in the book. They weren't abusive, they just made Edy feel like her older brother was so much more important. It was the same way at school with Edy and bullies. Oh and how I loathe bullies too! ****SPOILERS**** --->EXCERPT<--- 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 didn't I scream when I opened my eyes and saw him crawling between my sheets. Or why didn't I try to fight him when I still stood the 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. Right after that Edy almost told her mom when she came into her room that morning, but her mom wouldn't shut her mouth for two seconds trying to hurry Edy to the breakfast table. To the table where her brother's friend Kevin sat eating and being loved by the family. Her mother ran around the room telling Edy that sometimes this happens with your period. Was she stupid? She had blood all over the sheets and her nightgown and bruises on her body and neck. I'm sorry, but I have never bled that bad all over everything to where it looked like a crime scene, but her mom was clueless. She couldn't see her child was sitting there in shock! This brings us to the years of Edy's life in high school. The book takes us through each year, through the wonderful people she met and could have been or stayed friends with, nice boyfriends she could have had but she threw it all away. She started doing drugs, drinking and sleeping with a lot of boys with no feeling. I hate all of this happened to Edy. If she would have only told when it happened, but we are not all the same. Some have to hide it, feel like they have to at any rate. Please don't hide this girls, call the cops, get it out. YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE IN THIS FIGHT! MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

  8. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    A brutally honest YA novel about the lasting effects of trauma. 14 year-old, Eden wakes up in the middle of the night to find her brother's best friend, Kevin raping her. A powerful and unflinching novel from start to finish. First-time author, Amber Smith doesn't try to sugarcoat how the aftermath of being sexually assaulted changes Eden psychologically, physically, and emotionally. This novel unfolds in 4 separate sections as we follow Eden though her freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior in A brutally honest YA novel about the lasting effects of trauma. 14 year-old, Eden wakes up in the middle of the night to find her brother's best friend, Kevin raping her. A powerful and unflinching novel from start to finish. First-time author, Amber Smith doesn't try to sugarcoat how the aftermath of being sexually assaulted changes Eden psychologically, physically, and emotionally. This novel unfolds in 4 separate sections as we follow Eden though her freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior in high school. "The Way I Used to Be" will leave you reeling. Have some tissues handy. This novel is like a sucker-punch to the gut and heart. Enjoy. Opening line: "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."

  9. 4 out of 5

    alana ♡

    “I don't know who I am right now. But I know who I'm not. And I like that.” tw: rape (graphic), sexual assault, substance abuse This is one of those instances where I truly and wholeheartedly believe five stars does not do this book justice. This book, my God, this book fucking hurts. I wanted to scream and cry while listening to the audiobook of this because it's so dark and honest - it holds nothing back and it makes you feel so damn much within the 385 pages. The Way I Used to Be is a story abou “I don't know who I am right now. But I know who I'm not. And I like that.” tw: rape (graphic), sexual assault, substance abuse This is one of those instances where I truly and wholeheartedly believe five stars does not do this book justice. This book, my God, this book fucking hurts. I wanted to scream and cry while listening to the audiobook of this because it's so dark and honest - it holds nothing back and it makes you feel so damn much within the 385 pages. The Way I Used to Be is a story about trauma and life after it. Eden is raped by her brother's long time best friend after he sneaks into her bedroom one night. Please be warned the description of the rape is extremely graphic and unsettling, but it made the story that much powerful and moving for the author to force reader's inside Eden's head during every single second of the few minutes that would change her life forever. I thought the rape would be the most devastating part of the story, yet I was GUTTED when Eden's mom walks in the next morning and finds Eden frantic and covered in blood but assumes it's because Eden got her period for the first time. I wanted to scream as Eden was unable to find her voice and tell her mom what happened because she was so terrified. However, this was only the beginning of what has easily become the most devastating story I've ever read. Eden's story then goes on to follow her downward spiral from freshmen to senior year. Can I just say, if there are any fans of the movie Thirteen (a.k.a the best movie ever) out there you will LOVE this book. This had all the Thirteen vibes in terms of both girls downward spiral - just different circumstances surrounding the reasons for their spiral. She starts off with her usual friends, meets a boy and bases their entire relationship on lies to guard herself, and by senior year is completely self destructive to escape the trauma she still has told no one about. She's goes to parties to get intoxicated and pick up guys, has slept with 15 different guys by senior year, and calls her parents by their first names after basically disowning them. The four year time span of this story shows how far she's distanced herself from everyone who could possibly support her. To see how much Eden had changed from freshman year to senior was startling and at times made it difficult to like her, but it was executed so perfectly that it made this novel even more powerful. *Mild spoilers for the ending ahead! I've read some readers discuss how they didn't enjoy the ending of the book because it was too open-ended, and while I understand where they are coming from I also disagree. In instances like this, with such a heavy topic, I don't need closure, I just need hope. And that's exactly what this ending delivered. I'm lucky enough to have never been put in Eden's shoes but I don't think closure would help so much in this case. Eden coping with her trauma and her downward spiral is not something that would happen overnight, but as long as she is talking about it and working on coping in healthier ways than before I'm okay with that. Favorite Quotes “I don’t know a lot of things. I don’t know why I didn’t hear the door click. Why I didn’t lock the damn door to begin with. Or why it didn’t register that something was wrong, so mercilessy 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 to try to fight him when I still stood a chance.” “He's not the hero and he's not the enemy and he's not a god. He's just a boy. And I'm just a girl, a girl who needs to pick up her own pieces and put them back together herself.” “All you have to do is act like you’re normal and okay, and people start treating you that way.” “I feel these forbidden thoughts creep in sometimes without warning. Slow thoughts that always start quietly, like whispers you're not even sure you're hearing. And then they get louder and louder until they become every sound in the entire world. Thoughts that can't be undone. Would anyone care? Would anyone even fucking notice? What if one day I just wasn't here anymore? What if one day it all just stopped? What if? What if? What if?” All in all, for a debut novel this was extraordinary and now one of my favorite books of all time. I'm so glad I decided to finally pick this book up. If you are a fan of Speak and Girl Made of Stars you absolutely need to add this book to your TBR! Blog | Twitter | Instagram

  10. 5 out of 5

    K. Elizabeth

    3/5 Unlike my other book reviews, I had to give myself some time to figure out a proper rating with this one. Normally, as soon as I finish reading, I know exactly what I’m going to rate the novel. Not with this one. This one was trickier, for many reasons. The first three chapters (or so) of The Way I Used To Be hooked my unlike any YA novel I’ve read. To begin the novel at Eden’s rape scene was shattering — but also gripping, because I was waiting for her to tell someone what’d happened (after a 3/5 Unlike my other book reviews, I had to give myself some time to figure out a proper rating with this one. Normally, as soon as I finish reading, I know exactly what I’m going to rate the novel. Not with this one. This one was trickier, for many reasons. The first three chapters (or so) of The Way I Used To Be hooked my unlike any YA novel I’ve read. To begin the novel at Eden’s rape scene was shattering — but also gripping, because I was waiting for her to tell someone what’d happened (after all, her mother came in soon after!). And did she? Of course not. There wouldn’t be a book if she had. As the novel continues through Eden’s 4 years of high school, it subtly (and not so subtly) shows how the rape changed her forever. Now, obviously, anyone would be a different person after such a traumatic event. That being said, it doesn’t mean I have to like the changed person afterwards. My example being: Eden. I thought she was fine in the beginning, but the person she turned into was terrible and heartbreaking. I didn’t like her at all. Not only that, but alongside her terrible character, I noticed that some of the chapters were not nearly as good as the others—noticeably so. Asides from Eden and the shifting chapters, a character I really enjoyed was Josh—even if I didn’t understand why he put up with Eden’s crap; though I guess that’s what love does to you. Still. He was a real sweetheart to her when no one else was. I mean, the way he agreed to meet up with Eden (after they’d been broken up for years), because she “needed to see him” was beyond me. No guy would do that nowadays, without at least some explanation (at least, I don’t think so). Then again, like my mom always tells me: “It’s not reality; you’re reading a book! Stop confusing the two!” Overall, this novel tackles a very difficult subject matter by displaying the after-affects someone might go through after being raped. It shows how rape does not only effect the person raped, but that it also effects the people near to them, too. So, even though I read through this book rather quickly, there were many things that bothered me: the writing, the oblivious parents, Eden, Mara, etc. Therefore, this was average—maybe even slightly below average—but because it is about a sensitive subject mater that many people don’t write about well, I will leave it as “average.” ___________________________________ I read the first chapter of this online and oh my gosh it grabbed my attention unlike anything else. I can't wait until I get this in 2 days.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    THIS BOOK. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and what a welcome surprise this is. I’m so freaking glad this book exists. BECAUSE IT DESTROYED ME. "You're drunk, Edy. You're really drunk and that guy was trying to take advantage of you! You're lucky I came in when I did," he says, dead serious, as if getting taken advantage of would be the worst thing that could happen, as if that wasn't something that happens to girls on a daily basis. Powerful writing that sucks you in? Yes. Round THIS BOOK. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and what a welcome surprise this is. I’m so freaking glad this book exists. BECAUSE IT DESTROYED ME. "You're drunk, Edy. You're really drunk and that guy was trying to take advantage of you! You're lucky I came in when I did," he says, dead serious, as if getting taken advantage of would be the worst thing that could happen, as if that wasn't something that happens to girls on a daily basis. Powerful writing that sucks you in? Yes. Round main character with a strong personality? You got that. Fucking crude reality exposed as it should always be? YES Will you cry (and have permanent goosebumps) while reading this? Oh yeah. He needed to make her feel worthless, needed to control her, needed to hurt her, needed to leave her powerless.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    4.5 If you think, like i thought, that this is a book about getting over being raped, you are wrong. Because how could anyone ever get over it? They don't, they just continue living with it. That's what this book is about. It's about the ugliness that comes after. The depression and anxiety and mostly emptiness. The desire to control emotions and feel something you didn't have control over. I don't know where exactly my tears began and when they stopped because this wasn't a beautiful book. It w 4.5 If you think, like i thought, that this is a book about getting over being raped, you are wrong. Because how could anyone ever get over it? They don't, they just continue living with it. That's what this book is about. It's about the ugliness that comes after. The depression and anxiety and mostly emptiness. The desire to control emotions and feel something you didn't have control over. I don't know where exactly my tears began and when they stopped because this wasn't a beautiful book. It was messy and emotional and aggravating, because that's how it feels. These characters were so real and this was such a great portrayal of the ugly side of being a victim after rape as a teen. I loved seeing the progression from year to year and how dark Eden was becoming (also, i didn't fail to notice the name significance here, also nice apple add in there). This is the only time i wish a book hadn't been written so vividly because it killed me inside to relive Eden's nightmare over and over. I would have to say that if you have been raped, this book will either destroy you or make you feel less alone, but it may be a trigger so please read at your own risk. This book doesn't show "getting over it," because you never can. And sometimes you can't cope, and sometimes things get messy and fucked up. But you live, and you work through it, and you survive.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ambsreads

    TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape. As the girl closes her eyes, she was thinking of him. Thinking that maybe he was thinking of her, too. But he wasn't thinking of her in that way. He was holding her in the palm of his hand, wrapping her around his fingers, one at a time, twisting and molding and bending her brain. The Way I Used to Be was a book that sickened me. It's been a long time since I have felt physically sick during a book and sat there, for the most part. screaming at the main character to te TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape. As the girl closes her eyes, she was thinking of him. Thinking that maybe he was thinking of her, too. But he wasn't thinking of her in that way. He was holding her in the palm of his hand, wrapping her around his fingers, one at a time, twisting and molding and bending her brain. The Way I Used to Be was a book that sickened me. It's been a long time since I have felt physically sick during a book and sat there, for the most part. screaming at the main character to tell someone. I understand that may not be easy in cases of sexual abuse, I wouldn't know, and everyone does react differently I am sure. An accurate gif of me reading the first chapter: Saying this book is about a rape survivor, it's in the first chapter and description. I was curious how this book would work considering it was told over the course of years of high school - the rape happening while she was a freshman and the story concluding while she is a senior. The rape throws our main character, Eden, completely off course with her life. She goes from the good girl to a girl who has seen the ugliest of the world and is trying to regain what she lost in all the wrong ways. Eden doesn't react in smart ways and plays with people's emotions for her gain. She is cynical, cruel and a bitch. Now, clearly, I hated Eden for how she treated everyone around her. Though for a lot of the book I was crying for the girl. I just couldn't believe she had been warped so much into this new person who couldn't trust and saw only the negative. I also couldn't believe no one thought to ask her why she had changed, no one thought that maybe something had triggered this drastic change. Especially the people closest to her. My biggest annoyance, however, was the open ending. I hate open endings, and with a topic such as this I need closure. Overall I just have a lot of feelings regarding this book. I'm not sure I could even put into words how this book made me feel. I definitely can't formulate enough words to do a proper review which is frustrating, but I guess that's the point of this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: Man, this book hit my heart in so many places. It's a read that definitely hurts and has many angles that hit well on its subject matter, but it's not without flaws. In my full review, I hope I can expand on this. Full review: Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be" is an emotional experience; I can't say that there was a point that I had a dry eye upon finishing this book. One would expect something to that effect given the difficult subject matter of the book, centering on a young Initial reaction: Man, this book hit my heart in so many places. It's a read that definitely hurts and has many angles that hit well on its subject matter, but it's not without flaws. In my full review, I hope I can expand on this. Full review: Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be" is an emotional experience; I can't say that there was a point that I had a dry eye upon finishing this book. One would expect something to that effect given the difficult subject matter of the book, centering on a young woman who was raped by her brother's best friend when she was a freshman then following her downward spiral through four years of silence. Reading "The Way I Used to Be" reminds me a little of my experience reading a few of Ellen Hopkins books. No poetry here, but it's very raw and doesn't shy away from showing Eden's story in graphic detail. That means showing what happened to her during her rape and the aftermath in showing how it affects Eden's ability to relate with the people around her - from her family to friends to love interests. Suffice to say, Eden doesn't treat other people very well, let alone herself. It's a difficult spiral to watch; I'll admit there were times when I found it hard to watch Eden go to the point of no return with screwing up her relationships and trying everything she can to numb her respective pains - drugs, sex to offset her rape, pushing away all the people closest to her or even using other people as a means to end. Despite times when I wanted to throttle her or say "No, no, no!", I felt for her. Throughout the story I wanted so badly for her to overcome the spiral, even if there were moments where I felt numb by the holes she dug so deeply in her life. The narrative does a fantastic job of showing Eden's viewpoint and psyche, though I'll admit what kept me from liking this narrative more was probably a couple of vital things that felt missing. This book takes place over four different years and for the time change, that means it'll make certain leaps in order to move forward with the story. However, it felt like there were key scenes omitted that contributed to some jarring leaps within the book. (For example, when was the point Eden started calling her parents by their first names? That's a pretty important transition that went unaddressed for the most part. While I did see moments where Eden had a falling out with her parents - their neglect at times making me rage - it didn't feel complete.) I also realize that this is just one narrative that expounds upon an individual experience of rape and how it can negatively effect not only the person but their various relationships of different measures, but I feel like there could've been a better recognition of Eden's issues with using sex as a means to an end, a measure to fill the void left from her rape and struggles to be "normal". It caused so much conflict among her family relationships and friends, but was there really no one to tell her why that was wrong besides people choosing to cut her out of their lives? The narrative does give good insight on topics discussing sexual shaming (which I appreciated and wanted to hug Eden as she struggled with not only being the target of those attacks, but also struggling with her own negative self-labels). Maybe my mind is reaching beyond the context of this narrative's intention, but I feel like the moment Eden has her moment of recognition, the book ends too soon and abrupt - like we see many moments of her spirals downward, but don't see enough of her (very emotional and jarring) coming to terms - and that's one of the main points where it really got me. I think that's something that bothered me in the end, though the narrative ends with the note of things progressing further along in her recovery that we don't see as readers. Even with those qualms, I still appreciated what this story had to offer. I still think this is a narrative worth perusing because it shows some hard fought battles and an eye to horrifying experiences that happen far more often than not with experiences with rape/SA. But I would also argue that it's important for people (teens and adults) to realize that survivors of rape are not all-encompassed by the terms "broken" or "damaged" - nor are their shaped by that experience alone. This is something that I feel many YA and NA books need to recognize and expand upon, and I feel like "The Way I Used to Be" could've had further expansion to make it hit home that much more. Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I loved loved LOVED this book. I read this book in one day because I fell in love with it real fast. I connected to Eden (the main character) almost instantly as I was absorbed into the book. The topic, the character development, the writing and feelings were expertly executed. This is an astonishing contemporary that I would recommend to everyone. This book does have some more mature topics, but topics I believe everyone should read about, acknowledge and learn about. There is a great deal to ex I loved loved LOVED this book. I read this book in one day because I fell in love with it real fast. I connected to Eden (the main character) almost instantly as I was absorbed into the book. The topic, the character development, the writing and feelings were expertly executed. This is an astonishing contemporary that I would recommend to everyone. This book does have some more mature topics, but topics I believe everyone should read about, acknowledge and learn about. There is a great deal to experience, to learn from, to mourn, to excite and to cry about in this book. Please if you get the chance to read this book, do it. If you want to know more about what it was like reading it you can comment on this review or message me, I'd love to discuss it. Definitely one of my new favorites. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is the book I voted for best young adult fiction 2016. I think anyone who has a chance to read this book should.

  16. 4 out of 5

    enqi ☁️✨

    The Way I Used to Be was very difficult for me to rate. I struggled between adequately appreciating the important themes and messages in the book, while pointing out its flaws without seeming insensitive. How to walk the thin line between constructive criticism and plain callousness for all the victims whose stories were told in this book? I ended up rating it three stars, which in Goodreads means I "liked it". Which I did. There were just some points which kept me from rating it 4 stars or abov The Way I Used to Be was very difficult for me to rate. I struggled between adequately appreciating the important themes and messages in the book, while pointing out its flaws without seeming insensitive. How to walk the thin line between constructive criticism and plain callousness for all the victims whose stories were told in this book? I ended up rating it three stars, which in Goodreads means I "liked it". Which I did. There were just some points which kept me from rating it 4 stars or above, which I will touch on later in my review. Before I begin, I just want to throw a disclaimer out there that I am in no way invalidating anyone's experiences, victim or no. Nor am I "comparing" experiences in terms of the amount of trauma experienced. I'm just writing an honest review for a book. And if I come across in any way insensitive or callous, please do not hesitate to tell me immediately. The story follows a girl named Eden. She was always good at being good, even after starting high school. But the night her brother's best friend Kevin rapes her, her entire world capsizes. Everything she thought she knew was a lie, and everyone she thought she trusted ended up betraying her. What - and who- she once loved, she now hates. Nothing in her life makes sense anymore, and Eden can't bring herself to tell anyone what happened. So she buries the girl she once was - the way she used to be. Eden is thrown into a vortex of hatred, both for her abuser and herself, and this changes her completely. This book is told in four parts - freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year, revealing the deep cuts of trauma. 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. There is no denying that this is a haunting, gripping book that tells a very heartbreaking story. I couldn't stop the tears as I read about Eden and her gradual emotional decline, the way she began to lose touch with the people closest to her, retreating into her own head more and more. How anything and everything became a sickening reminder of that terrible night. How she sought to numb herself, detach herself from the memory, and began to use other guys as an outlet to forget what happened, even for just a moment. How she unwittingly (or knowingly?) lashed out at the people closest to her, behaving horribly to them and pushing them away. Eden's life becomes a vicious cycle, and she spirals further and further into PTSD. But even though the writing was clearly heartfelt, it ended up being a double-edged sword. Eden was a very frustrating character, to say the least. She was extremely difficult to like and very easy to dislike. The way she talked to others, the way she treated the people who genuinely cared about her, her attitude in general, rankled me and got on my nerves several times. The book became a little repetitive - something happens and it triggers Eden, she lashes out at the people around her, they try to ask what's wrong and she shuts them out. And then goes into an even bigger spiral of self-hatred because she can't bring herself to say anything about why she's not okay. And this went on for at least 90% of the book. It wasn't an easy feat to stomach Eden's character for that long, because to put it quite frankly - she was a bitch to everyone she knew, even her own best friend. There have been many YA books touching on the subject of rape recently - and this story hasn't really brought much to the table. The only interesting thing about it is how it's told in four parts - one for every year - and in each part, we watch Eden slowly change and we really get to see how that fateful night has shaped her. However there are also some aspects that are very lacking. For most of the book Eden is in a continuous downward spiral - but instead of using several repetitive events to bring that message across, I would rather have seen it in the more intangible things, like why in her POV Eden suddenly began addressing her parents by their first names Vanessa and Conner instead of Mom and Dad. But the author simply leaves it as Mom and Dad one page, and Vanessa and Conner the next. I felt like these changes were actually crucial in showing Eden's character development and the process of her growing rebellion, but they were simply glossed over. It was also really depressing to read this book. I couldn't read it in one sitting because of that. Every few chapters I would have to put the book down to clear my head. And this is where I risk sounding insensitive - a depressing book does not mean it is automatically good. In that sense, The Way I Used To Be was - I'm terrible at analogies - like a fluffy but empty bun. You bite into the soft, fluffy texture of the bread, anticipating the rich taste of the filling since the bun tastes so promising - only to find the filling is empty and there's nothing inside so you're just eating plain bread. That's what I felt like reading this book. It was wonderful at first, but as time went on the story began to drag and I found it hard to get through it. Only towards the end did the book pick up - around the last six chapters where the healing process was beginning. His hands, his arms, can hold the pieces in place temporarily, maybe even for a long time, but he can never truly put them back together. That's not his job. He's not the hero and he's not the enemy and he's not a god. He's just a boy. And I'm just a girl, a girl who needs to pick up her own pieces and put them back together herself. I loved Eden then - but alas, I only got to see this version of her in the last 20 pages. Eden's healing process should have been gradual and measured to me, not rushed in the last few chapters. In the end, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. It runs on emotions and shock factor more than it does actual substance. But I also felt that it is a very important book and I did take something away from it. Eden never dared to tell anyone what happened to her for fear of her own life - it began that first morning when even her own mother didn't seem to notice that anything was wrong with her, despite all the blood on the sheets. To all females out there - when something like that happens, get help. Don't bottle it all up - there are many, many avenues of help available even if you don't want to tell your family and/or friends. I cannot emphasise the importance of this. And would I recommend this book after all? I would. Because it is poignant and it is heartbreaking and it does carry important messages. Maybe everyone has different tolerance levels. Some of my friends rated this book 4 or 5 stars. Perhaps I just couldn't bear reading about depression, having been depressed to the point of suicidal for some months of my life. But if you're looking for an alternate perspective, to learn more about victims of this terrible crime, then definitely pick up this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    4.25* So the story starts right off with the main character Eden getting raped at age 14 by her brother's best friend Kevin. He threatens to kill her so she doesn't tell anyone. The rest of the story is broken up into her freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior year of high school and shows how that trauma has affected her mindset, behavior, and mental state from keeping that secret for years. (view spoiler)[First of all the storyline of this book was a complete shock to me. Eden's actions in thi 4.25* So the story starts right off with the main character Eden getting raped at age 14 by her brother's best friend Kevin. He threatens to kill her so she doesn't tell anyone. The rest of the story is broken up into her freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior year of high school and shows how that trauma has affected her mindset, behavior, and mental state from keeping that secret for years. (view spoiler)[First of all the storyline of this book was a complete shock to me. Eden's actions in this book was pretty much a giant plot twist to me, but it does actually make sense when I think about it. I was like oh my god the irony is real, but it wasn't really irony because Eden obviously never rapes anyone, but still. I'm trying to be vague. If you read the book you'll get what I'm saying. (hide spoiler)] Here's something I think the story did incredibly well. I pretty much always sided with Eden or at least sympathized with her because I know her story and her mindset and her reasoning behind each action. The reasons behind her actions were very fun to deduce. Another great thing is the use of IRONY throughout the story. I know her story, but none of the characters do so I'm just like noooo you don't get it because they actually really don't get it because Eden never told anyone. Oh and in the ending there's this thing that happens that is so ironic I can't even explain it because it's too good. On the other hand I really disliked the (good) guy side characters. I just don't understand their actions toward Eden. There is one great side character though. Eden's best friend Mara is amazing throughout. So she has 2 kinda love interests throughout the years, but the romances are pretty lame so I just ended up thinking the guys were stupid assholes. She never gave any reason for them to pursue or like her and they did anyway and got hurt because of it. I didn't like the entire sophomore section of the story because of this. Both relationships were instalove, but it was for the sake of the plot. The state of these relationships are very much needed for the plot, but the actual characterization of these people made them seem very stupid in my eyes and I feel no sympathy towards them like I feel towards Eden. I absolutely loved Eden's descent into madness. Each year the trauma eats at her more and more. Everything around and within her gets worse and worse. The ending section is the culmination of everything that happens before and it is incredible.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Gail

    The Way I Used to Be is perfectly readable, a solid 3 stars, despite a few quibbles. There's been a trend in YA novels lately. With stories like, Firsts, What We Saw, and All the Rage, rape, rape culture, and teen sexuality are on the forefront. It's not unwelcome either. When in was in high school, four score and seven years and a lifetime ago, before iPhones and Snapchat and whatever these young whippersnappers these days have, sex wasn't discussed. Rape wasn't discussed. Slut-shaming wasn't a The Way I Used to Be is perfectly readable, a solid 3 stars, despite a few quibbles. There's been a trend in YA novels lately. With stories like, Firsts, What We Saw, and All the Rage, rape, rape culture, and teen sexuality are on the forefront. It's not unwelcome either. When in was in high school, four score and seven years and a lifetime ago, before iPhones and Snapchat and whatever these young whippersnappers these days have, sex wasn't discussed. Rape wasn't discussed. Slut-shaming wasn't a concept I even heard of till sophomore year of college. What I'm roundabouts saying is, I'm glad books like The Way I Used to Be exist. Is it perfect? No. It's a few fries short of a Happy Meal. However, it is a worthwhile read. My main issue with the story is the level of drama. It is a super angst filled story. Of course, I don't expect a story about a high school girl who is raped by her brother's friend, then acts out in increasingly dramatic ways, to be all sunshine and butterflies and super sweet puppy cuddles. Dramatic happenings are to be expected. However, it got a bit old. God, I feel like a curmudgeonly old goat bitching about it, but Eden CONSTANTLY blew up at people, shut down emotionally, and found new and inventive ways to lash out and make people hate her. It became, "What self-destructive / mean / emotionally unstable thing will Eden do this chapter?" Of course, I get the why. It didn't make it any easier to watch Eden continually hurt. There's a lot of sex in this book. Eden (again frustratingly and understandably) deals with parts of her trauma by having noncommittal sex. However, whether with someone she has feelings for or with someone she doesn't even know, sex is never a true positive in her life. I wanted sex to be something good for Eden! If people want to have anonymous sex, that's great! All kinds of safe and consensual sex are great! If any of this was what Eden truly wanted, and not just her trying to find a magic dick and a bottle of vodka to heal herself with, I would be cheering her on. It gets a little trying, seeing sex as such a damaging thing in YA novels. You know what I would like to read? I want a book about a girl who has sex. Not with the great love of her life, not as a way to lash out, or because she is pressured. But because she wants to. It isn't the holy vaginal explosion of happiness, or sad, or traumatizing. But she's safe and happy. It's 100% consensual fun. Then she goes and gets pizza with her friends, because sex is fun, but pizza is important. The Way I Used to Be was an exhausting book to read. Despite my issues with its negative portrayals of sex and high levels of drama, there's a well-constructed story underneath it all. It's well worth a read. Do recommend. Huge thanks to Edelweiss & Margaret K. McElderry Books for the digital arc!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sharon ∞❥ is an emotional book junkie ❥∞

    3.5-4 ★'s I seriously do not know where or how I came across this book but the premise intrigued me so I thought I would give it a go. Let's just be clear here, this is not a romance. Not to say there isn't some sweet romance in the story but that's not the main theme. The story is broken up into four parts...each one is a year in Eden's high school life and it begins with a really horrific event and her life will never be the same. We get to see how she deals -or doesn't- with how the event impa 3.5-4 ★'s I seriously do not know where or how I came across this book but the premise intrigued me so I thought I would give it a go. Let's just be clear here, this is not a romance. Not to say there isn't some sweet romance in the story but that's not the main theme. The story is broken up into four parts...each one is a year in Eden's high school life and it begins with a really horrific event and her life will never be the same. We get to see how she deals -or doesn't- with how the event impacts her and those around her. It's really sad. You just want to reach through the pages and hug her and guide her and tell her what to do. A lot of it was very frustrating. The event is not told in a detailed way but there is enough that's for sure. Most of us have known people like Eden or even been Eden ourselves. She tries to deal with her feelings the best she can without telling anyone a thing. I had three favorite things in the story. One is her best friend, Mara. She is Eden's rock as well as her partner in crime. They do all the typical pushing-things-to-the-limit teenage stuff...it's just that Eden goes further. And that further becomes alarming to Mara as they get older. The second one is her relationship with Josh. He is super sweet but I couldn't help but wonder if he liked her so much because she was the only one that made him work for it. The part at the end was sooo sweet. ~Sigh~ And the last is her brother, Caelin. He was the typical big brother...in all ways but it was heart breaking when he finds out what happened...and with whom. This story is a journey, one that was hard to read at times but intriguing. My main issue is that there is no epilogue. I think after going through all of that with Eden that we deserved to know how she was doing in the future. Amber Smith is a new author for me but definitely one that has my interest. She writes with a certain slant and that makes me curious about her other books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book hooked me in from the very start and it was surprisingly really gripping too. When I was reading it, I felt like I was 100% in the story and so it was one of those books that completely sucked me in, I was just SO absorbed in the story. Reading about rape isn't easy and so this book is definitely not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. Of course reading the hard bits were tough and I got quite emotional at times because I just wanted to take away Eden's hurt but overall, I'm so glad This book hooked me in from the very start and it was surprisingly really gripping too. When I was reading it, I felt like I was 100% in the story and so it was one of those books that completely sucked me in, I was just SO absorbed in the story. Reading about rape isn't easy and so this book is definitely not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. Of course reading the hard bits were tough and I got quite emotional at times because I just wanted to take away Eden's hurt but overall, I'm so glad that I read this. Eden was a very complex and three-dimensional character. She felt like a real person to me and reading about her hurt and hatred was so palpable. I could relate to her a lot and I think a lot of other readers will too. It happens to almost everyone, where one single event changes everything. It changes who you are, what you want, how you think, how you behave, your relationships with other people and yourself, how you see the world and well, it changes everything about your whole life. When this event occurs, it's like your life gets split into two stages- before and after. When you are in the after stage, you don't just think about what changed you but also, who you were before. I could especially relate to Eden when she was looking back at the way she used to be and mourning the loss of that girl. My heart absolutely went out to her. After Eden was raped, she tried to take complete control of her life but instead she ended up losing all control and her life just spiralled out of control. You just want to protect yourself so nothing bad ever happens to you ever again but instead, you are just in complete fear and you're not really living at all. As for the reckless behaviour, well I could relate to that too. (view spoiler)[ I liked how Eden used sex as an escape. From what I know, the majority of time when someone gets sexually abused, understandably sex is distorted for them and they tend to either be afraid to have sex or tend to have sex a lot. This is the first book I read (or remember anyway) where the character goes for the latter. It's different and the one I can relate to more and that is why I liked it more. (hide spoiler)] The writing was really good, not particularly in the actual writing style itself, but in the way that it was simply a way for the story to be told. That might sound silly and perhaps I'm not making any sense but bear with me for a second... So of course writing itself is a way to tell stories but sometimes the writing style sort of becomes a part of the story, whether this is like misspelled words mirroring the fact that the protagonist is not quite as intelligent as the average person or perhaps an author will use flowery poetic language to describe a magical place and that adds more magical elements to the story. The writing style in this book almost felt like a diary or something similar because it is just a girl letting readers in to little bits of her life, sharing her thoughts and trying to make sense of everything. That is another thing that made it feel so real. The only negative thing I have to say is that I felt like I didn't get to witness enough. This book is a few hundred pages long but it takes place over 4 years. I think that was a cool idea but it left out too much. There were a few things that just kind of happened and it felt really sudden and I was like "Where did this come from???" (view spoiler)[ For example, Eden stopped calling and referring to her mom and dad as "mom" and "dad". This is MASSIVE and it's just kind of thrown in in like the third section (I think it was the third anyway) as before she referred to them as mom and dad. (hide spoiler)] I see what Amber Smith was doing with the four year thing and there were pros and cons to it but I guess that was quite a big-ish con for me. I would 100% recommend this & read something else by Amber Smith. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “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.” “And I really wonder how people get to be normal like this. How they just seem to know what to say and do, automatically.” “I feel like I’ve gone off somewhere else, like I’ve just sort of slipped into this other realm. A world that’s a lot like the real world, except slightly slower. This alternate reality where I’m not quite in my body, not quite in my mind, either-” “This is real. This is actually my life. And it’s happening. It’s happening right now.” “And then someone switches off the circuit breaker in my mind and everything just stops. Like wires are cut somewhere. I am disconnected, offline. And then things fade to this still, calm, quiet nothingness.” “And I realize I feel a little strange, like, out of my body in a way I’ve never been before. In a way that feels so much better than drinking too much, or even that night at the playground when we got high. Better than any feeling I’ve ever had. Empty and full, all at the same time.” “He’d been sitting there in the back of my mind like someone incessantly tapping on my shoulder.” “I feel these forbidden thoughts creep in sometimes without warning. Slow thoughts that always start quietly, like whispers you’re not even sure you’re hearing. And then they get louder and louder until they become every sound in the entire world. Thoughts that can’t be undone.” (view spoiler)[ “His hands, his arms, can hold the pieces in place temporarily, maybe even for a long time, but he can never truly put them back together. That’s not his job. He’s not the hero and he’s not the enemy and he’s not a god. He’s just a boy. And I’m just a girl, a girl who needs to pick up her own pieces and put them back together herself.” (hide spoiler)]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Didi

    WOW. That was some intense stuff. The synopsis of this book gives you enough information to go into this knowing a few key things. The most important being, that a young and naive fourteen year old girl gets violently raped by her older brothers best friend. There's no build up to this violence. The book opens up while the rape is about to happen. From then on, this book tells the story of how Eden, the victim of such a brutal act, deals, or rather, doesn't deal with the cyclone that is her life. WOW. That was some intense stuff. The synopsis of this book gives you enough information to go into this knowing a few key things. The most important being, that a young and naive fourteen year old girl gets violently raped by her older brothers best friend. There's no build up to this violence. The book opens up while the rape is about to happen. From then on, this book tells the story of how Eden, the victim of such a brutal act, deals, or rather, doesn't deal with the cyclone that is her life. Told in four parts, this book was relentlessly gripping, gaining speed as Eden's life becomes increasingly chaotic, heading towards a downward spiral. The thing that stood out for me the most from this story, was how Eden, striving to be normal, attempting to erase what happened to her, inadvertently does the opposite. She falls into a vicious cycle of self-hatred and loathing, while on the outside becomes an increasingly unstable and promiscuous young woman. I think I had tears falling down my face at least every other chapter. Watching her try and internalize her fear and trauma was excruciating. She was so alone, so desperate for something to take away the pain and hurt. Each part deals with every year in high school, freshman to senior. And each part deals with how far gone Eden becomes. Lines blur between enemies and friends, family and outsiders. I think this was a very moving, emotional and powerful story. Fear, hatred and doubt erode what's inside of Eden, but there's no where for it to go. Of course I don't have to tell you it's a somber book. But it's also filled with hope. It ends as it should, paving the way for healing. There isn't much time spent on the legalities or process with dealing with rape victims, because it doesn't lose sight of the point of this book: that anybody who's a victim can overcome their fear. Anybody can find a way to be whole again. Support and the message that 'It's okay. We believe you. It wasn't your fault.' is paramount. Loved this book and how painfully realistic it was, but also hopeful.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kali Wallace

    I had a chance to read an ARC of Amber Smith's THE WAY I USED TO BE. This is a beautiful, powerful book about the long-term affects of rape on a girl's life. Eden is a fantastic, realistic character, and watching her story unfold over four years is both painful and enthralling. That's four years of trauma and secrets, self-destruction and growth, fear and courage, lost trust and strained families, through friendships and relationships broken and reformed, all of it told as though we are right th I had a chance to read an ARC of Amber Smith's THE WAY I USED TO BE. This is a beautiful, powerful book about the long-term affects of rape on a girl's life. Eden is a fantastic, realistic character, and watching her story unfold over four years is both painful and enthralling. That's four years of trauma and secrets, self-destruction and growth, fear and courage, lost trust and strained families, through friendships and relationships broken and reformed, all of it told as though we are right there with Eden, who is so much stronger than she thinks she is, going through everything she goes through and feeling all of it. It's a heartbreaking story, but ultimately hopeful, and so incredibly important. I definitely recommended it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Giselle

    This was a hard one to read. Told from four years of one main character trying to live her life after she has been raped by her brother's best friend. Her downward spiral of becoming emotionless and distant was so heart-breaking to read. Other characters will react in different ways, and Edy's was a different one from what I've read. She starts to lead a more promiscuous lifestyle with drugs, and booze. Alienating her school work, her family, her friends. The moment she started referring to her This was a hard one to read. Told from four years of one main character trying to live her life after she has been raped by her brother's best friend. Her downward spiral of becoming emotionless and distant was so heart-breaking to read. Other characters will react in different ways, and Edy's was a different one from what I've read. She starts to lead a more promiscuous lifestyle with drugs, and booze. Alienating her school work, her family, her friends. The moment she started referring to her parents by their first name was the moment I knew she was heading for disaster. I obviously wanted an extended ending especially with her rapist because at least in fiction, they can get jail time. I'm glad I recommended this one for my library's OverDrive.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle (TheYoungFolks.com)

    There's a reason I rarely read books that deal with this type of subject matter. It pulls a visceral response from me, and it's hard to let go. Amber Smith writes a deeply emotional story that is both gut-wrenching and hopeful in its efforts to depict an experience and aftermath that unfortunately many young women face. Full review on TheYoungFolks.com: http://goo.gl/v2hzqC There's a reason I rarely read books that deal with this type of subject matter. It pulls a visceral response from me, and it's hard to let go. Amber Smith writes a deeply emotional story that is both gut-wrenching and hopeful in its efforts to depict an experience and aftermath that unfortunately many young women face. Full review on TheYoungFolks.com: http://goo.gl/v2hzqC

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emerald Sue

    “Maybe He'll get what he deserves. Maybe Not. Maybe I'll never find it in my heart to forgive him. And maybe there's nothing wrong with that,either. All those maybes swimming around my head make me think that "maybe" could just be another word for hope.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Real rating: 4.5/5 stars! Quick thoughts before I forget: - Trigger warnings: excessive use of the f-word; rape; sexual scenes - Main character is incredibly similar to me; it's terrifying. - Pacing is wonderful. - Reminds me of FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn and SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson - Dives right into the story, which I really liked. - Terrified for/with her; felt so much emotion; even teared up at some parts. - Incredibly sad, incredibly important. EDIT: Full review found at Princessica of Real rating: 4.5/5 stars! Quick thoughts before I forget: - Trigger warnings: excessive use of the f-word; rape; sexual scenes - Main character is incredibly similar to me; it's terrifying. - Pacing is wonderful. - Reminds me of FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn and SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson - Dives right into the story, which I really liked. - Terrified for/with her; felt so much emotion; even teared up at some parts. - Incredibly sad, incredibly important. EDIT: Full review found at Princessica of Books **Thank you to the publisher for providing me a complimentary early copy for review via Edelweiss! This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own.** Debut young adult author, Amber Smith, publishes THE WAY I USED TO BE, an emotional evolution of one girl scarred for now-- forever.  Before I say anything, I must mention some trigger warnings: rape is one of the main topics, there is excessive use of the f-word, and there are some mild sexual scenes. The Main Character The main character, Eden, is so incredibly similar to me; it's terrifying. Not in the sense that I was raped (I wasn't!), but we're practically the same age, we have the same family structure, and our personalities are similar. I've never read a book with such a similar main character. Because of the uncanny similarities, it was easy-- almost too easy-- to put myself into her shoes. I kept thinking, "This could've been me. This could be me." In addition to us being terrifyingly/stunningly similar, she's such a self-destructing character. She throws herself into, essentially, dumb situations, yet I understand why. There are reasons to her rebellion-- not just hormones, but everything she does is justified in some way. I get why she reacted that why; why she had to toughen up; why she felt that undying need to be loved and in control, by whatever means. She actually reminds me of Mercedes from Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's novel Firsts, in the way that both use sex as a means of control and imitated love. "I'm terrified he'll see through the tough iceberg layer, and he'll discover not a soft, sweet girl, but an ugly f*cking disaster underneath." - from eARC, not final copy. Emotionally Involved The second you read that first page, you are thrust into the story. No, really, you are literally put into the moment where she is getting raped. It shocked me, but the good kind of shock; the "WOAH, THIS IS HAPPENING NOW" kind of shock.  I'll admit that I did tear up at some parts and I even cried, especially when her brother and she get into arguments. Like I said, I could relate to it so much that it hit close to home. The other thing I liked about being involved is that I felt everything Eden felt. Like her, I forgot characters and her friends until they were mentioned again.I missed characters like she missed them. I lost what she lost. I was terrified with her and for her throughout the entire book. Not just terrified that she might get raped again or the threats Kevin kept making, but I was terrified of the path she was going down. I was terrified of her. "Rage. In this moment, I am nothing but pure rage."- from eARC, not final copy. Writing Style Honestly, if school and track weren't an issue, I'd probably be able to finish this in a day. In fact, though the beginning was slow (but in the end, that could be overlooked because of how utterly AMAZING it is), I did finish this between 2-5 sittings. It's so smooth and so poetic. You know what? Here are some of my favorite quotes. I highlighted the most in this book than any other. So many good quotes, so many feels. Favorite Quotes* "I really wonder how people get to be normal like this. How they seem to know what to say and do, automatically." "I don't cry in front of boys." "Truth. Truth! Truth?" "... before it was like you had the girl and then you had the rumors about the girl, but now there's only the girl, because the rumors aren't just rumors anymore, they're the reality--they are the girl." *from eARC, not final copy. Pacing I absolutely love how Eden's story is told in four parts: Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior. Again, as a current high school student, I relate to this so much. It's not even the full year, just the most important months and it's beautiful and an amazing way to take advantage of time. The four separations truly enhance her character development.  The ending is pretty open-ended but I think it's necessary for this type of book. In other words, The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith made me cry because of its self-destructive main character and poignant and poetic writing style. The uncanny relation I have with Eden makes it hit even closer to home. The Way I Used to Be reminds me of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. This does mention rape so please do not read this if you are not comfortable with the topic. However, it's still a beautiful story about moving on and recovering from the unmovable and unrecoverable. It's the type of book that's not about love but self-love. How much do I recommend this? Buy it now, if you are comfortable with the said trigger warnings! Final Rating: ★★★★★ (5)/5 stars; my second of the year!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Gorzelanczyk

    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 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!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susana

    5 stars ⭐ Reread 14/10/2020 - This book completely broke me just as it did the first time, if not even more. I cried so, so much. Eden's story is so important and reading it was a reminder of how many people go through such a similar, traumatic situation on a daily basis and that just makes my heart hurt so much. First read 14/10/2018 - This was such a heart-breaking and eye-opening story and overall an amazing book. I'm planning on writing a detailed review on my thoughts but I'm not sure when be 5 stars ⭐ Reread 14/10/2020 - This book completely broke me just as it did the first time, if not even more. I cried so, so much. Eden's story is so important and reading it was a reminder of how many people go through such a similar, traumatic situation on a daily basis and that just makes my heart hurt so much. First read 14/10/2018 - This was such a heart-breaking and eye-opening story and overall an amazing book. I'm planning on writing a detailed review on my thoughts but I'm not sure when because I still have other reviews I'd like to get to first. TW: rape; substance abuse. The Way I Used To Be is a young adult contemporary story about a girl named Eden who is raped by her brother's best friend during the winter break of her freshman year of high school. The book begins right after this happens and it follows Eden until the end of her senior year. The plot of this book was incredibly executed. It is so interesting to see how much Eden changes in such a short period of time. Seeing her going from an innocent little girl to a young woman who constantly does bad decisions harmful to herself is truly heart-breaking. It was even worse seeing how she blamed herself for what happened to her even though it was not her fault at all. Most of the hate, though, I save for me. No matter what anyone else did or didn't do, it was ultimately me who gave them permission. I'm the one who's lying. The coward too afraid to just stop pretending. The best part of this book by far was how much it impacted me; during the days I spent reading it, I could not stop thinking about it both of the times I read it. It consumed my thoughts and I even had trouble sleeping one day because I physically hurt from reading about Eden's pain. And whatever he thinks my body is, it isn't. My body is a torture chamber. It's a fucking crime scene. Hideous things have happened here, it's nothing to talk about, nothing to comment on, not out loud. Not ever. I won't hear it. I can't. Eden is a very unlikeable character, but she's also quite complex. There is no doubt that there were many times in this book when I wanted to scream at her for some of things she did (view spoiler)[(e.g. constantly being mean to Steve; hooking up with random guys in an attempt to feel better, etc.) (hide spoiler)] , but I reminded myself that was just her way of dealing with what she was feeling and what happened to her. In the end, I love her as a character despite all of her flaws. I felt for her so much and I also related to her in some aspects. Why do I feel so completely alone when I'm with her sometimes? Why do I feel like, sometimes, I have no one in the entire world who knows me in even the slightest, most insignificant way? Also something I have to point out due to how much it got on my nerves is how much people clung to one mistake Eden made because of some stupid rumours. I feel a bit ashamed to say this but I really liked Josh and Eden together despite the age difference. I am well aware that they should never have been together at such a young age and they especially shouldn't have had sex when Eden was only 14 and Josh was 18. In addition, Eden never should have lied about her age and said she was 16, though I'm pretty sure them having sex would still be illegal if that was her real age. I am glad though that when Josh finds out about her age, he distances himself from her, in spite of the fact that I'm pretty sure part of the reason for it was that she deeply hurt his feelings. I think it was the right choice for them to break up even if it made me sad, but I wish they had got together later on in their lives. Despite all of that, I really freaking loved Josh as a person. He was so kind and caring and felt like such a breath of fresh air amongst all the the stupid and immature high school and college guys in this book. I've seen a few people saying this book falls under the trope of "boy saves girl" regarding the romance, but I disagree. In fact, I believe it does the exact opposite. I so very much wanted them to end up together, however they specifically didn't for the reason this criticism is based on. He's not the hero and he's not the enemy and he's not a god. He's just a boy. And I'm just a girl, a girl who needs to pick up her own pieces and put them back together herself. When it comes to Eden's family (her parents and her brother), I couldn't help but feel like there were so many times that if they had just listened or paid a little more attention to her, Eden would have been able to tell them what happened. On the other hand, I really liked the relationship dynamic between Eden and her brother Caelin as I found it be quite realistic. He's on his feet, just needing to show me how much bigger and stronger he is than me. As if I could ever forget. As if the entire world wasn't organized just to make sure I never forget, even for a second, that any boy, anywhere, even my brother, could take me. "(...) You're luck I came when I did," [Caelin] says, dead serious, as if getting taking advantage of would be the worst thing that could happen, as if that wasn't something that happens to girls on a daily basis. I'm not even going to get into details about Kevin because all I have to say is that he's a disgusting asshole and I just wanted him to not exist. Every time he was mentioned or was in a scene, it made my skin crawl and make me want to throw up. (view spoiler)[I couldn't have been more happy when his ex-girlfriend exposed him for the piece of crap he is so he could finally get the punishment he deserved. (hide spoiler)] Finally, the ending was so beautifully written. Maybe I'll never find it in my heart to forgive him. And maybe there's nothing wrong with that, either. All in all, The Way I Used To Be is, without a doubt, one of my all time favourite books. It will break your heart and make you go on a roller coaster of emotions, but it's so, so worth reading, I can't express it enough. I urge everyone to pick it up asap as it deserves so much more hype!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    The Way I Used To Be definitely took me on an emotional roller coaster ride that I didn't sign up for. It was such a rush to read and I instantly fell in love with the main character. I felt her pain throughout her struggles and I was sad when she was depressed and didn't know how to handle things in life anymore. Have some tissues near by when you read this book.. or something to punch when you meet the aggravating characters. Eden definitely went through a lot in this book. Shit definitely hit The Way I Used To Be definitely took me on an emotional roller coaster ride that I didn't sign up for. It was such a rush to read and I instantly fell in love with the main character. I felt her pain throughout her struggles and I was sad when she was depressed and didn't know how to handle things in life anymore. Have some tissues near by when you read this book.. or something to punch when you meet the aggravating characters. Eden definitely went through a lot in this book. Shit definitely hit the fan here folks. One day everything was happy go lucky.. and the next she was raped by a close family friend. Her world was shattered in a instant. She didn't know how to move on from this or how to handle her grief. Eden went through some nasty stuff. Her parents didn't really seem to care about her. She had some friends but they didn't know about what happened. Heck, her brother didn't even know. They all understood that she was a little different one day and just accepted her as that. Well, until the day that she finally told someone about what happened between her and the douche snozzle named Kevin. Of course that didn't happen until the end of the damn book but I'm happy she finally told someone! Yes, she made terrible decisions. Yes, her life took a slide into the deep and dark unknown. However, she was a victim who was constantly living with this shame and grief and feeling unwanted. I have no idea how people handle that as an every day thing but reading about what Eden went though and the decisions she made.. man it broke my heart. However, I did mention Kevin in the previous paragraph and I just wanted to mention that I hate him. Like a whole bunch. All of my hatred is going towards this one character. The man is a monster and I can't believe what he did to Eden nor his sister. I hate him so god damn much that if I ever see a Kevin or meet one... I'm going to punch them in the face. Of course I'll apologize after that.. but damn I'm mad! Overall, this book was good. Eden's character definitely does some growing throughout the book (whether it's in the right or wrong direction). She doesn't seem to know how to handle relationships or how to treat some of her friends but that's because she was mentally and physically dealing with something so much bigger than that. Do I think she should've treated these people differently? Of course. Do I think that she should've told someone about what happened way before she did? HECK YES. In the end, I loved this book. I didn't like some of the characters or how they acted in the book but all that mattered to me was Eden. I will definitely be looking into another book by this author ASAP!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Gillan

    haven’t read a book in one sitting in a while but i just couldn’t put this down. wow. i am sobbing

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