THE WAY I USED TO BE
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.
There are some subjects in novels that leaves a feeling of anticipation from the moment you are introduced to a character. The feeling of meeting Edy has been an heartbreaking one. A feeling of total dispair, regret and so many questions left unanswered throughout the novel. This is one of those realistic fiction books that makes you think about our current generation of students. If makes you wonder or ask yourself why didn’t she speak out. Edy is impacted by a horrible encounter that will stay with her for the rest of her life. Will it define who she is? Will it set the foundation of who she will be growing up? Time will tell if she will be strong. Or will she hide in the shadow of distruction, for an act that can never be erased. The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith, is Edy’s story of how she handles the act of being sexual assulted. The novel spans through her years of high school and takes the reader through her emotional and life changing journey.
Amber Smith creates a back drop of a subject that isn’t approached much in the Young Adult genre. Her details and word choice are appropriate for the young adult reader. She offers just enough to invest fully in Edy’s tragedy and watch how she copes with the notion of being violated by someone who was her brother’s friend of the family. I couldn’t read this novel without silently giving advice to characters who wouldn’t answer me back. Nonetheless, Ms. Smith gives her readers a perfect start to finish debut novel.
ABOUT AMBER SMITH
Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, NY and now lives in Charlotte, NC with her two dogs. After graduating from art school with a BFA in Painting, she earned her MA in Art History. When she’s not writing, she is working as a curator and art consultant. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art. The Way I Used to Be is her first novel.
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