The way I used to be || Amber Smith

Published on 20 July 2022 at 11:30

No spoilers

TW: Slut shaming, Graphic rape recounted, Sexual assault, Sexual harassment, Alcohol consumption, Recreational drug use, Trauma (theme), Bullying

A heartbreaking story about the life of a teenager that was sexually assaulted by her brother's best friend.  

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 he 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 arts 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, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

Book Details 

Published March 22, 2016

Page count 384

Goodreads 4.19/5

My rate 

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Main character


When Eden started high school, she was this beautiful, sweet, smart girl who played band at school. So far she had a great childhood and was raised in a good family. Eden forms the lunch-Break Book Club because unfortunately, she and her friends (Mara, Stephen, and Cameron) were bullied by their peers, so bad that Eden found an excuse to avoid the bullies during their lunch periods. She had a great bond with her brother Cealin, who was one of her favorite people in the world. She also had a good bond with her parents but after what happened to her one night during Christmas break, changed her into a whole different person. Instead of the good girl, she became the bad girl.  

My thoughts

The way I used to be was such a sad and beautiful written story. I have once read a book on the same subject but the way I used to be was something else to me. I have never read a book with a story like this, and this book broke my heart. I loved Eden so much but she was also mean at times and so cruel to her friends. But after what happened to her, I also got why she was being so mean. She had so much anger in her towards Kevin (her brother's best friend) and expressed her anger toward her friends and her family. It’s not right but it’s logical. I can’t even imagine what she had to go through. She was a sweet and innocent kid that turned into a depressive and mean person because of what Kevin did to her. I hated Kevin so much. The first pages were so heavy because the book began on that night when Kevin raped her. How the whole night went down was described in the book. That’s why it is so important to check the TW first because of these pages.


When Eden’s mom came into her room in the morning, after what happened, I just felt like Eden couldn't even tell her what happened because of the conclusion she took. Eden couldn’t even talk because her mom interrupted her every time. She should have been a more supportive listener to her daughter. I think that was a big mistake her mom made. Nobody in her life took her acting different for something else. I think they should have been more just felt so so sorry for her because it’s disgusting what Kevin did. To his best friend's sister, how could he do that? This was one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read. I love Eden so much and she deserved so much better than what happened to her. I was grateful for Josh, that she had him because I think he saved her in a way.


The farther she went away from the person she used to be how more depressed she became. Sometimes she didn’t even wanna be on the earth anymore and I got it though, it made sense to me. She was so lost, and nobody was there for her. Except for Josh in her sophomore year, that's why I loved him so much.

Josh & Eden 

In Eden’s freshman year she meets Josh Miller, but they met each other through a circumstance in the hallway at school. A year later they got to know each other in their sophomore year. Josh was a popular senior and he and Eden meet properly during study hall. Josh meant so much to Eden during her sophomore year because she desperately needed someone and when she met Josh, he was her safe place. I think people who have read the book agree that Josh was a great guy. I loved him so much throughout the story. Eden wasn’t always so nice to him, and I think it wasn’t that fair to him how she reacted sometimes. She didn't treat him well and even though it’s not an excuse Eden didn’t do it on purpose in my opinion. She was struggling so much in her head. Even though she said a lot of mean things, she loved Josh, she was just really struggling with herself. Which makes sense in my opinion.

This sad and heavy story made me feel a lot of things, especially pain. Eden is such a strong girl and even though I've read about sexual assault I could never imagine what something like that does to a person. Eden you are one of the strongest fictional characters I know, be proud of who you are <3


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