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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

GIVEAWAY + Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith @ASmithAuthor

The Way I Used to Be
Pages: 385
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher
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.
Quick Thoughts

An incredibly moving story, one that had my stomach curled in knots while reading about Eden's life after such a traumatic event. This should be obvious, but trigger warning for descriptions of rape in this novel.


I never read Speak, on purpose. As a woman in today's world, the fear of sexual assault is all to real and as a resident of a big city I am always looking over my shoulder. It's a sad reality. Reading stories of sexual assault, whether real or fictional, always fill me with such dread and emotion that I try to stay away from the fictional ones–ignoring the real life stories is impossible, and no matter how much it scares me, I make sure to listen to the stories of my fellow women when they speak out about their experiences. We have to support each other, and push culture and the media to listen to our voices when something is wrong.

Despite my general reluctance to consume fiction about this topic, I have set myself a personal goal of reading every book on my TBR pile and this happened to be one of them. So I set about reading. Be prepared, the actual sexual assault description happens in the very beginning. From there, it's about Eden learning to cope with her trauma--or rather, not really coping at all and trying her best to numb the pain. This one event permeates every single part of her life, and yet no one else knows because Eden is convinced that no one would believe her if she told them. That was one of the more heartbreaking parts to read, the moment when she rationalized to herself that she wouldn't tell anyone because she thought they'd think she was lying.

While this is a work of fiction, I think it's important to have books like this that portray some facets of the trauma that women and girls endure. Eden wasn't able to have a healthy romance because of it. She became alienated from her family, her self destructive behavior pushed away all of her friends. This is the reality for some people, although everyone processes trauma differently.

Overall, this was a very powerful book and one I'd recommend.

“Maybe He'll get what he deserves. Maybe Not. Maybe I'll never find it in my heart to forgive him. And maybe there's nothing wrong with that,either. All those maybes swimming around my head make me think that "maybe" could just be another word for hope.”

About the Author
Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her two dogs. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the arts, story, and creative expression, Amber graduated from art school with a BFA in Painting and went on to earn her master’s degree in Art History. Her debut novel, The Way I Used to Be was a New York Times bestseller. Look out for her next book, The Last to Let Go in February, 2018. Visit her online at

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This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own.

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