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The Way I Used to Be Hardcover – March 22, 2016
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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 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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STARRED REVIEW “This is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships, and life….Teens will be reminded of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. VERDICT An important addition for every collection.” ― School Library Journal
“A difficult, painful journey, but teens who have experienced rape and abuse will be grateful for this unvarnished and ultimately hopeful portrait. Eden’s shell-shocked narrative is an excellent narrative conduit for what Smith has to say.” -- Booklist ― February 1, 2016
"This is far from a feel-good read, but I can’t implore how necessary it is to read a book like this one . . . As unforgettable and stirring as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Smith’s provocative debut is best described as a survival story with hope and anger serving as prominent themes so fully explored they simmer off the page." ― The Young Folks
"Readers will root for her as she gathers the courage, at last, to speak up." ― B&N Teen blog
"The Way I Used To Be is an intensely gripping and raw look at secrets, silence, speaking out, and survival in the aftermath of a sexual assault. A must-have for every collection that serves teens." ― SLJ / Teen Librarian Toolbox
"Easily one of the hardest books to read on this list. Brutal, raw and emotional… Eden’s story gets told on her terms, in her voice. An honest look at one teen’s struggle to find her way back to herself, to mold herself into the survivor she is." ― FANGIRLISH
"THE WAY I USED TO BE promises to be meaningful, significant, and truly unforgettable." ― FIKTSHUN
"Don't let a book of this magnitude pass you by. Pick it up and read it because Eden's story demands to be read." ― Once Upon a Twilight
"With an achingly beautiful narrative and carefully crafted plot, The Way I Used to Be is more than just an excellent book; it’s an important one." ― NOVEL NOVICE
“Bottom Line: powerful, emotional and raw.” ― BRANDI BREATHES BOOKS
“Edy’s exploration of the meaning of sexuality and intimacy will be thought provoking for teen readers of various experience levels, and this title is likely to find space alongside [Laurie Halse] Anderson’s Speak." ― BCCB
“The Way I Used to Be is a beautifully told debut novel spanning four years of a rape survivor’s life” ― The Bucks County Courier Times
“A heart-twisting, but ultimately hopeful, exploration of how pain can lead to strength.” ― The Boston Globe
About the Author
- ASIN : 1481449354
- Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books; 1st edition (March 22, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781481449359
- ISBN-13 : 978-1481449359
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Lexile measure : HL640L
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #19,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This book is heartbreaking on so many levels. Aesthetically, the writing is absolutely gorgeous – I can’t believe this a debut, and I will preorder every one of Amber Smith’s following books without even bothering to read the synopsis. From page one you are captivated by this story, and it was near impossible to put down. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a nearly 400 page book in 24 hours.
It hurt to read sometimes, because reading Eden’s words felt so much like reading my own thoughts, both as a teenager and now. We don’t have the same story, but books like this are necessary because they remind you that you don’t need to have the same experiences as someone to understand their journey. Emotions are universal. The struggle to overcome any trauma is nearly indescribable, and yet Smith did this in a way that made it seem almost effortless. I rarely read the same book twice, but this is a book I will revisit time and time again.
I don’t know what else to say. Oddly, words don’t seem like enough. This book was so much at once. If I had to choose one word, I’d choose beautiful – but even that doesn’t encompass everything that it is. If you’re reading this review on Amazon or Goodreads, please, please, please go and buy it. I’m a stranger to you, but I promise you won’t regret it.
I know a lot of people read books to escape, but I’ve always read to connect. Never before have I connected so completely with a story. I dreamt about it last night after reading nearly half of it in one sitting, and I think I’ll dream about it again tonight. The scenes were so vivid, the characters so completely real. I think it might be another lifetime before I feel this way about a book again. I almost hope it is.
This story is broken down by each high school year. For Eden high school became about the groups, rules, and cliques. Eden didn’t fit into any groups or cliques. Nobody stood up for people like her and Mara who got bullied. Not fitting is not something that gets talked about. Eden realized she was suppose to accept their behavior. After all she believed it was her problem that others bully her because she was too weak to stand up to them. Eden knew better than this, but she feels like her family, her friends, and the school system has failed her.
We watch Eden cope by finding alternate ways to avoid the negative attention placed upon her. Both Mara and Eden explore areas that garner them the necessary reprieve they are looking for at certain moments in life.
Eden just wants to blend in and be normal and finish school unscathed. It’s an adjustment and one that’s difficult to manage with no role model to follow. Eden is a young teenager trying to navigate the tough years of adolescence in high school. Eden goes through some very awkward stages in her high school years. It’s completely understandable considering the circumstances. The rape not only violated her body but her mind as well. Eden is confused and doesn’t know how to express the feelings taking place within herself.
I found Eden’s character to be quite relatable given the circumstances of her relationship with her parents, brother, and Kevin. Her stages of rebellion were the best ways for her to deal or cope with these confusing feelings when she lacked a support system.
I was so afraid to read this book due to subject matter inside. I got to say Amanda Smith made it easy to read. Rape is a scary word and when attached to a persons age and the identity of that person it’s even more alarming. I didn’t want to read about a rape, yet Amanda made sure to be careful with how she wrote that scene. I survived because Amanda was cautious enough to focus on the aftermath of that situation. That’s what I strived for, in this book an opportunity to read about one girls struggle with a toxic secret that ruined her life.
This was good.
Really really good.
It was written well, the characters were so well fleshed out, every thought and every moment on every page- was so vivid, and every little thing about this book was absolutely consuming. I loved it so much I couldn't finish it faster if I tried (and believe me I was operating on even less sleep than usual) lol
This was a story filled with bittersweet moments, heartbreaking moments, and funny manic batsh!+ crazy moments- and the author perfectly transports you there for every one of them.
If you want to be fully immersed in it's terrifying, dizzying, infuriating, maddening, dramatic and angsty pages- get it. You won't be disappointed.
Top reviews from other countries
I felt so angry for her, so upset for her, so heartbroken for her. You just want her to be happy.
I thought the writing was beautiful and the story was unforgettable. I've already recommended it to a bunch of friends.
P.S I love Josh Miller