The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith, Review

☆☆☆☆☆

“I was supposed to get up, get dressed and sit down to breakfast with my family. Then after breakfast, I would promptly go to my bedroom and finish any homework I hadn’t finished Friday night, sure to pay special attention to geometry. I would practice that new song we learned in band, call my best friend, Mara, maybe go to her house later, and do dozens of other stupid, meaningless tasks. But that’s not what’s going to happen today, I know, as I sit in my bed, staring at my stained skin in disbelief, my hand shaking as I press it against my mouth.”




**WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS**

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From the first chapter, my heart was broken for Eden. My anger for Kevin had my blood actually boiling. We meet Eden “Edy” in her bed, questioning what the fxck just happened to herself. Her brother’s best friend–who is practically family–has just raped her. He has told her that no one will believe her, that if she told anyone he would kill her.

Eden was a freshman in high school, so 14? I unfortunately can relate to Edy (I WAS NOT RAPED) but I remember 100% being that age. Knowing the new feelings about boys, knowing what boys were capable of. So I can truly only imagine what was going through her head while an 18 year old just told her he would kill her.

The book is told in 4 parts, Amber Smith takes us through Eden in her freshman year, sophomore year, junior year, & senior year. This was one of the many things I loved about this book.

Starting off with freshman year where we begin to see Edy’s change.

“I watch a car roll through the stop sign at the corner, the driver barely glancing up to see if anyone’s there. I think about how they say when most people get into car accidents, it’s less than one mile from their home. Maybe that’s because everything’s so familiar, you stop paying attention. You don’t notice the one thing that’s different or wrong or off or dangerous. And I think about how maybe that’s what just happened to me.”




There is a point in the beginning of the book where Eden starts the blame game because how else is a CHILD supposed to cope with all these feelings? She feels she cannot tell anyone what happened to her! Eden wants contacts, leaves band, and starts smoking cigarettes. She feels dead. She feels the need to stop being the stupid, little mouse girl (for that’s what caused this to happen to her in the first place, no? ::heart breaks::).
Eden about her parents:

“I let them make me into a person who doesn’t know when to speak the hell up, a person who gives up control over her life, over her body, over everything. I do what they tell me to do, what everyone tells me to do. Why didn’t they ever teach me to stand up for myself? Even though they don’t know what happened, what he did to me, they helped create the situation. In a way, they allowed it.”




As we enter Eden’s sophomore year, girls become evil. Every girl, including me has dealt with catty girls. They are writing all over the bathroom walls that she is a whore, a slut etc. And the cherry on top is that–Kevin’s sister is the one behind it. Eden’s behavior is a reflection of what was taken from her. She meets a wonderful boy–Joshua Miller–who only ever had good intentions. Eden being closed off, confusing, and straight up mean, wants to feel the love, care and attention he gives her. She doesn’t believe that is what she deserves. She feels worthless.

By her junior year, I’m 100% sure we are supposed to be SO, SO angry with Eden, hate her even. I didn’t, I never did, I never could. Her internal struggle was again, so goddamn heart-wrenching. There were so many tears shed for her and her secret.

When senior year rolls around, Eden loses a lot. Vague? Yeah, she loses her friend, Mara. She’s lost her brother, her parents. She’s lost her fxcking mind. All because again–her behavior. She finally breaks, after not speaking to Joshua for years, he is the only one she can run to. Although I’m SOO disappointed they do not end up together in the end–they’re friends–I still think it was a smart decision on both their parts. Eden lets go of her secret and we see the beginning of her welcoming the woman she truly wants to be, no longer who she thinks/feels she has to be.

This book ripped my heart out. It made me feel completely empathetic for ANYONE who has ever had this experience and felt like they could not speak up about it. It’s sickening. Disgusting. And I urge anyone who has gone through this–REACH OUT TO SOMEONE. You are not, and never have to be alone. You are not worthless. You are not what they make you feel. You are strong and you can make it through the darkness.

“I watch as his body melts to the floor and I start to understand something too. That this isn’t all about me. This thing, it touches everyone.”




Thank you Amber Smith for such a crippling beautiful story. This will be one tough hangover to deal with!

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