New Book Review: The Way I Used To Be

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Rated 3.5 of 5 stars

Amber Smith had me from the first chapter of this emotionally, heart tugging story. The story follows Eden “Edy” McCrory after she has been brutally sexually assaulted by her brother’s bestfriend at the tender age of 12 years old. Questioning herself, fearing for her safety, angry with her family or brother for not protecting her in her own home…she cocoons herself away. Hence, the title of the book. The tragedy that emerges is one that the reader will hate to live through. Eden becomes less of the sweet, innocent child and more of the wild, hateful, hurtful person no one thought she could be. Eden goes through many trials on her journey to find herself and her comfort level with what happened to her. She goes through self-blaming, self-medicating, isolation, suicidal thoughts and then finally she finds the strength to do what feels right, what really gives her strength.

Overall, the story was broken into each year of high school but technically, the story develops in three parts…beginning, middle and end. The beginning grabs the reader quickly and assures that you won’t want to put the book down until about the 100 page mark. The middle slows tremendously for the reader as Eden continues her struggles to find herself but also really mimics a normal teen with rebellious behavior. This continues until the 300 page mark with most readers growing tired of Eden’s rebelliousness and begs for her to deal with her issues head on or at least let someone in to bring another dimension to the story. This “letting someone in” doesn’t occur until the last 75 pages. Therefore, the ending seems to be comforting and triumphant but you almost feel like your holding your breath with the main character as she finally shares her story. The reader feels a great release and rush of emotion during this ending…you can’t help but feel the awkwardness and the hurt, the confusion that the Eden goes through.

While the story brought the emotional upheaval I was seeking…it struggled in some areas. The terms “sorry” and “weird” are used in overabundance. Also, the story follows teenage relationships and well, the dialogue was very “teenage” like but for an adult reader it grated my nerves that no one finished a sentence nor could they express any real emotion other than saying “are you mad?” and “sorry” continuously. So that was a definite error on the writers behalf. We want to feel like we understand the characters mental and emotional state but we don’t want to be put off by the dialogue and never get the real emotions the characters are actually feeling (we only guessed). This is especially important for Eden since she is the character that we want to really know inside and out. Her telling herself she doesn’t know how she feels or what she thinks is kind of off putting and a waste of valuable moments to portray something pertinent to the readers about her evolution. Anyway, the book overall is pretty solid and I’d recommend it for teenage readers to open discussion about sexual assault.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

*Have you read this book? If so, what were your thoughts on Eden and Josh’s ending?

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