Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Title: The Way I Used To Be
Author: Amber Smith
Pages: 368
Trigger Warning: Rape

Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.


I have very mixed feelings about this book. At times I liked it, and some of the time I really disliked it. The last 100 pages is when I actually started liking it, the rest was just a long, drawn-out buildup, but it's still a recommended read because she does take steps to attempt to overcome this horrific event that has plagued her for so long, and I feel like more people should read books that deal with subject manner of this type to raise awareness and let people get some insight into what it could be like in someone's head when they've been violated in that manner.

1. The main character (occasionally). Eden grated on my nerves for the most part, but I do believe she is a strong-willed main character and has had to overcome a lot of things which in turn makes her a little bit more bearable for me.
I do have a few questions, though. WHY did she always find herself in situations where she has the potential to be violated again? I feel as though survivors of rape tend to try to take precautions against would-be attackers more so after they've been violated as opposed to before. I honestly just want to know the reason she kept doing this because it made me worry for her.
I'm not victim blaming, and we as women SHOULDN'T have to take precautions because people should just be decent human beings and not touch people without their consent, but this is a sad world we live in, and precautions are how we stay safe, ladies.

2. How freely the book flowed. This book is broken down into four parts: her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. Sometimes we skip over huge chunks of her life, but none of it was important and there was no need to fillers. I like how over time, it's showing just how much an impact rape had on Eden. Rape isn't something that happens once and then it's over, sometimes it happens multiple times in ways that aren't always so blatant, or sometimes it really is just once, but one time when someone invades your personal space is all it takes to completely change a person.

3. It shows how people are wired to assume things are something when in fact that something is completely different. Like how her brother could sense the changes in her, but couldn't think of anything that could have possibly brought on the changes. Or the fact that her mother didn't ask her if it was actually period blood on the covers at the beginning of the book. Sometimes we take people for granted and don't say things at the right time when we should because we're preoccupied with other things to get to really focus on what's important before it's too late.

1. As I mentioned above, how Eden found herself in situations that could repeat what brought all of this on in the first place. She continuously found herself alone with boys who she knows she can't take on (she even mentions that she's helpless against what a man wants to do to her if he wanted). Naturally I'm like, why did you go where you knew you wouldn't feel safe? But we all have our reasons for doing things, and I will not be the person to judge another for how they deal with their trauma. Everyone heals differently.

2. It felt very wordy to me. Like I understand the book was spanning over the four years of her high school life, but I felt like a lot of the stuff in between was put in specifically for filler. I found my mind wandering sometimes.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own and are not swayed by any outside factors.