Eden was always good at being good. Band geek. Book nerd. Starting high school didn’t change that.

But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s whole world capsizes. What was once simple is now complex. What Eden once loved – who she loved – she now hates. What she believed was the truth, now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and now she’s never felt so alone in her life. 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.

(taken from the inside cover of The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith)

Heartbreaking.

That’s the one word I would use to describe The Way I Used To Be. It takes place over the main character’s four years of high school, starting with a summer night before freshman year where Eden was raped by her brother’s best friend Kevin.

Over the next four years, Eden transforms from a quiet “good girl” to the school’s biggest slut, at least according to the bathroom walls. She has sex with any guy who even looks at her, and spends her days smoking and drinking.

Eden is a character that my heart broke for. She pushes her friends away, she is ostracized by everyone, including her own family, and all the while, she’s holding onto the terrible truth of what Kevin did to her. She is also burdened by her unexpected feelings for her friend-with-benefits, Josh.

Even though sex is a huge part of this novel, female friendship is another big recurring theme. Mara and Eden are the heart of the novel, showing a friendship throughout four years of growing pains and changing. It is definitely a highlight of the book.

This book is a truly heartbreaking look into the mind of someone who has been sexually assaulted, and though I got a lot out of it, not everyone will. It has a lot of language and mature themes. Only high school and above should read this.

4/5

 

 

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