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Review by Suze
Eden is a happy fourteen-year-old girl. She's a bit nerdy and wears big glasses. She doesn't have many friends at school, but the ones she has are wonderful. She loves to read books and play music. She's comfortable with herself the way she is. That changes when her brother's best friend rapes her. Nobody knows Eden's secret. She can't talk about it and slowly she starts to fall apart. Everything she used to be and used to know is different now. There's a new Eden, a person who tries to live with the past, but who can't get over what happened to her.
The Way I Used to Be is an intense story about the effects of rape on a young girl's life. The story made me cry repeatedly. Amber Smith tells it in such a moving way. There's a lot of chaos in Eden's life. Everything she knows has changed and when she tries to cope things spiral out of control. I kept wishing I could step into the story to help her. She's confused, she's hurting and she has nowhere to go and nobody to talk to. I could feel her loneliness so well that it kept overwhelming me. I'm impressed by how much this book made me feel.
The Way I Used to Be is a story I won't easily forget. It's one of those stories you have to read even though you wish the topic wouldn't even exist. I think Amber Smith tells the story in a raw and honest way, but she remains sensitive and compassionate. I loved that balance. There's a strong message in the story and I think it's great that there are books like this. The way Eden tries to keep herself together is brave, but also absolutely awful. It's a story that tells people how horrible it is and how serious the consequences are when someone's being raped.
Eden is so young when her brother's best friend enters her room. The story focuses on all of her high school years. Amber Smith describes several years of Eden's life. I think that's a daring decision, which fortunately works very well. The reader witnesses Eden's struggle with what happened and the fact that her childhood is over in just a few minutes. The Way I Used to Be is a difficult story, but one nobody should stay away from. Amber Smith is a talented author and this book is both terrible and brilliant at the same time. It's a definite must-read.