In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault. Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes. What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be. Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
The Way I Used To BeFeatured
So I saw a lot of people talking about The Way I Used To Be and I kept reading rave reviews so I knew I had to check it out. I opened this book and read the first chapter and I did not close the book until I had devoured every..single...page. I read the book from cover to acknowledgements in one sitting. I was completely captivated by Eden's story, her struggle to survive, and how she attempted to deal with the pain that her sexual assault caused. The first paragraph in the book grabbed me and from there on I could not put it down.
"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."
There is so much raw emotion and heart-breaking issues throughout this entire book. I had so many "feels" while reading this book. I felt sad, angry, mad, and then I would feel happy, hopeful, and at some times.... relieved.
Eden story is full of so much pain and anguish. She is secretly hurting so bad and acts out in different ways just begging for someone to see...for someone to ask...for someone to care and yet no one pays attention..no one notices how bad she is hurting inside.
The Way I Used To Be should be read by each and every teenager and young adult. The issues in this book are so real and so many young people are faced with both sides of this story and should see the effects that rape has on not only the victim but everyone around them. I searched for some advice/help that I could post along with my review and I found some great information on the website Rainn.org.
It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially when that person is a family member, friend, or loved one. If you’re looking for information on how to support a child, click here. Consider the following ways of showing support:
Listen. Be there. Communicate without judgment.
If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to report, offer to be there. Your presence can offer the support they need.
Encourage the survivor to get support. Share resources like the National Sexual Assault Hotline and online.rainn.org, but realize that only they can make the decision to get help.
Be patient. Remember, there is no timetable for recovering from trauma. Avoid putting pressure on them to engage in activities they aren’t ready to do yet.
Encourage them to practice good self-care during this difficult time.
If someone you care about is considering suicide, learn the warning signs, and offer help and support. For more information about suicide prevention please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.TALK (8255) any time, day or night.
To search for your local sexual assault service provider, click here.
It’s important that you take care of yourself, too. You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org and receive confidential support
Needless to say, this book truly touched me and I absolutely loved it...the only problem I had with the book was when I read the last page...I didn't want it to be over.... I wanted to continue to read about Eden and her family and friends and how they faced the challenges ahead. I really hope that the author, Amber Smith, continues writing after this amazing book because her writing is mesmerizing and her characters are written in a way that really makes you connect with them and feel what they are feeling. I absolutely recommend this devastatingly beautiful book....
What worked: Omigod, the raw emotions that Eden goes through after the horrific act is shown throughout this novel. Powerful. There is so much about this novel that resonated with me as a reader. For one, Eden's painful journey starts as she tries to makes sense of what happened. Lots of emotions surface but the strongest one has to be betrayal. Her brother's best friend takes her innocence and shatters it. Her parents should have known what happened but she feels they also betrayed her by not protecting her. Rumors circulate at her school that she's 'that girl'. The slut-shaming starts from someone close to her attacker. A numbness takes hold of her and she ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy by sleeping with guys she doesn't know. This helps her escape the horror and for a moment actually feel.
The emotions, struggles, and conflicts are shown throughout her time in high school. She starts off as hiding in a lunch book club and then a relationship she has with the cute senior guy becomes a series of overnight stays and lies.
I liked how readers also see her BFF Mara during this time too. Mara is the friend that has her own troubles and introduces Eden to smoking and drinking. Through best friends, she doesn't really go to that place to ask what happened to Eden. Readers sense that she knows something happened and that she doesn't agree with the idea that Eden sleeps with lots of random guys. Still, I wanted her to reach out more to Eden though I do understand that place is scary. I know first hand how hard it is to branch out and try to get someone to confide. The fear of being rejected is very strong.
The other themes of body shaming, first love, struggle with sexuality, and friendship are issues readers are sure to identity with. In the end though this story isn't about a victim but rather someone who triumphs over the hold an abuser has over her.
Powerful, bittersweet tale of a teen who deals with the aftermath of being raped. Raw, unflinching, and though painful, a honest story that shows a girl learning to dig deep within for the courage to be a survivor.
2. Raw and painfully honest
3. Author nails the roller coaster ride of emotions with teen over being rape
4. Shows struggles/conflicts
5. Must read for fans of Speak and Ellen Hopkin's books
Eden was a character that broke my heart in so many ways. Her relationship with her parents wasn’t great, especially with her older brother off at college. It seemed like once he was gone, no one knew how to react or interact without him there to complete the family. They treated her attacker like he was one of the family so her own home was no longer a safe place. She coped the only way she could think of: become someone else, someone who wasn’t a quiet, good girl. She made me want to scream at her family and her friends to do something, notice something, question something and don’t write it off as being a teenage girl thing.
This book dealt with a lot on top of Eden’s attack. There was slut-shaming and bullying and addiction issues. It was so easy for outsiders to slap their labels on Eden, much easier than questioning the huge change in her, and once she was labelled, it was easier for her to run with it and be that person instead of who she used to be. She made some bad decisions that could have gotten other characters into some serious trouble but it was never in a malicious way, just in a way that she felt she needed to act to deal.
I can see why this was compared to Speak but I think both books stand on their own. This book had a lot to offer the reader, from Eden’s journey of healing to some great side characters and interactions to its overall story. This is a book that will stay with me for some time.