Review: The Way I Used To Be

Amber Smith - The Way I Used To Be
Published: March 22, 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Rating: 3/5

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 is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching, traumatic book, but I had numerous problems with it, so give me a moment to elaborate.

This book takes place over the span of four years. Year 1: Eden's freshman year in high school is a decent one. She's a clarinet player. Member of the school band. Glasses and freckles and every nerd trope there is. Until one day, her brother's best friend, Kevin, sneaks into her room in the middle of the night and sexually assaults her, threatening her to keep quiet, and upending her entire life.

Over the next three years, Eden's life takes a turn for the worse. She loses the glasses and hops on guys without rebound, argues with her parents and brother frequently, and drinks and parties every other day.

So here's where I'd like to discuss a few of the problems I had with the book, and I don't wanna sound like that person, but she could've told someone. She eventually does, but as a form of a plot-twist. So. Honestly. Her best friend was so easygoing and her parents weren't even outright assholes.

I also think Eden is spoiled as shit. She argued with her parents over the transition from "glasses to contacts" and burst into tears to get what she wanted, and she frequently tossed around "I hate you." Because that's reasonable,

Personally, I think it's impossible to lie about your age. Because most of the time, you look it. Eden, who was fourteen/fifteen/sixteen, a majority of the novel she's constantly telling people (i.e. boys) she's eighteen and they believed her without qualm.

And I understand Eden has been through a lot, but this was pretty much Fault Line. Just because you're miserable, doesn't mean you need to make everyone around you miserable. She made several people cry. What do you gain from that?

This debut is stunning and I cried over it. The ending was sliiiightly unfulfilling, but it's not the type of read to miss.


  1. I do agree with you about Eden. I think these things would have been part of her personality regardless, too (like the feeling entitled, spoiled, etc), I don't think she gets a pass on some of these things just because of what happened to her.

    I think that the whole thing was like a snowball effect- the longer she didn't tell anyone, the more hostile she got, and the less likely she was to tell anyone. I was just so sad for her. And MAD because one asshole in ONE awful moment changed the entire trajectory of her life. And I think that like you said, it is the kind of book you need to read- even if just for that message. Fabulous review!

    1. Totally true! It's really such a sticky situation. I'm not trying to say Eden didn't deserve sympathy, but I didn't like how she got away with so much. Just because someone has gone through something horrific - which I did mention in my review - doesn't give them an automatic pass. I feel like her only retribution (initially) for what had happened to her would be to hurt someone in response, and that's not the way to be. Thanks!


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