The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
Published: 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Although there is no lack of stories about a white girl who got raped, it’s aftermath and the way rape victims are treated, Amber Smith’s The Way I Used to Be shouldn’t been seen as another ‘typical’ or ‘expected’ or ‘cliche’ fictional account. Instead, view it as a reiteration—a reminder because the world needs as many it can get.
The one thing that stood out most to me was how this book evoked so many emotions from me. I realized after a second (more prepared and also distanced) read that the way it’s written effectively allows you to experience Eden’s ‘present’, which includes her emotions, her experiences and her thoughts. You will experience with her, the way she changes and grows with each chapter. The way she loses her old self and emerges anew broken and in pain and desperately trying to build herself an armor around her person as her first line of defense and a wall around her heart as the final line of defense. The way she, who has grown so tired of her burdens, finally lets other in to the truth but chooses instead to pick the pieces up herself instead of having another save her.
Unfortunately, the way this book is written also has it’s faults. There are points in the plot that aren’t as well explored as they should be, abrupt changes like when Eden stops calling her parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and instead uses their names. Although I wouldn’t like it if a book dragged on for too long, I feel that the pacing of this story is too quick at some parts. If the author spent more time expanding the aforementioned points, I believe that this book would have an even greater emotional impact and that Eden’s character would be even more convincing and human. Honestly, had I not reread this book without being so thoroughly involved in Eden’s emotions, I wouldn’t have noticed how flat the other characters and how one-dimensional her relationships with them are.
So yeah, The Way I Used to Be doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and there are a number of faults to it, but it’s also undeniably good because of it’s ability of connecting the reader to Eden.