Turning the Pages: ‘The Way I Used To Be’ by Amber Smith

The Way I Used to Be.

It’s 6 simple words, but it’s so much more complicated than that. This book is just like this – it’s so complicated, so deep, and will literally tear you apart at the seams.

When I was sent this book, I put it in the TBR pile, not thinking twice about it. But one day, while cleaning my room I picked it up and started to read. I couldn’t put it down and through a sea of tears and feeling helpless, I found myself wanting to shout from the rooftops that everyone needs to read this book.


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.

In a world where you are just supposed to be a kid – where your biggest worry should be about what you are wearing to school or if your Mom will let you sleep in on the weekend – Eden is faced with the worst thing imaginable. A person that she trusts assaults her. And like so many – she doesn’t have the words to put it into – she can’t tell what has happened to her. So she buries it inside and it destroys her.

It destroys the innocence that she had.

It destroys the relationships that she has.

It takes her soul.

But Eden feels shame. She struggles for control. She wants to forget, but she can’t. She can’t admit what has happened – even through her actions are shouting that something has. Her family thinks it’s something that she’s going through – but this is a lot more than just adolescence. This is her life. She’s looking for someone to believe in her and finds that in a boy that she will let get close, but not close enough to hurt her.

We watch as Eden navigates high school, holding it all in and how it affects all of the people who are around her. We watch and we fall apart with Eden, hoping that in the end she can finally feel safe, secure, and at peace.

The Way I Used to Be is a marvelous debut that tugs at the heart strings and leaves you speechless. It reminds you that we never know the battle that someone else is facing and that you should always be kind. This book is a can’t miss read.

It is a painful journey, but one that helped me come to terms with my past and I believe that it will help anyone that has an experienced an assault. You are not alone. Amber Smith, I thank you for this important book and the way it changed my life, thought process and reading.

The book hits shelves, March 22nd. Don’t miss it.

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