The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith | CRINGE CRINGE

Title: The Way I Used to Be
Author: Amber Smith
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Source: Finished copy from Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 2/5 stars
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.

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**I received a copy from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own**  

Warning: This book talks about rape, sex, drugs and vulgar language

The Way I Used to Be discusses the effect of one tiny moment on the life of a young teenage girl. It is as an important book as ever, especially in this day and age. Books can only do so much to teach us about these types of real life situations, which you should pray never happens. Although this book is of ground-breaking importance, sadly I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. 

In the beginning of Eden's freshman year in high school, she is raped by her brother's best friend, Kevin Armstrong. It happens when she is asleep. She doesn't know it's happening until he's inside her room and on top of her. The details are excruciating. The next morning, she doesn't do anything about it. More like she can't do anything about it. In that moment, she's powerless. And what's worse is after that traumatic occurence, she tells no one. She keeps it sheltered inside of her for the next few years. She lets it slowly chew her up from the inside.

Eden's world didn't just capsize. She let her secret change her entire future. From sleeping with random guys, smoking joints, drinking illegally and bombing her SATs, Eden knew her life was in disarray. She enjoyed it. She wanted distractions, so she could never be reminded of what happened that night.

To say that I didn't like the main character would be an understatement. I felt bad that she had to experience what no person in the entire world should ever go through. Rape is fucked up. It was unfair what happened to her, but I couldn't help hating her for what she decided to do about it. She didn't tell anyone because she thought no one would believe her. And one little shred of me understood where she was coming from because in the moment, she was embarrassed and probably scared that her rapist would come after her. But that didn't extinguish the fact that not telling doesn't fix anything. In fact, it let her demons win. This one decision of the main character set me off through the entire story. I really didn't agree with the story's direction. I thought it gave off a really bad message as a means to say that not telling was okay and a better option. I didn't like that at all.

Eden was unbelieveable. She wasn't what I was expecting. I'm in no way saying I didn't like her character because I didn't understand her and what happened to her. I will never, in a billion years, be able to understand her because what happened to her never happened to me. I will not try to understand because then it'd be like crying at a stranger's funeral.  I can't dismiss the fact that Eden blamed her parents for not realizing that she was upset. She blamed her brother for having loyalties with Kevin. She blamed Maya, her best friend, because she couldn't be the kind of friend who would know immediately that she was in trouble. I didn't like the main character, but I don't think I was supposed to like her. I was supposed to understand her story and see how such a tragic event could potentially change someone's entire life.

(Section below is a spoiler but is still part of my review. Read at your own risk. Highlight to read)

It's crazy because if the cops never came to question Eden about Kevin in the first place, she would have kept it inside of her for god knows how long. I think the whole part about the cops coming over to question Eden was such a plot insert! According to Eden's personality and character she would have kept that inside of her till the day she died. I hate to say this, but the plot kind of forced it out of her. 

An emotionally-gripping story, yet I was fuming at the main character. She was infuriating! Her conversations with other people were cringe-worthy in the terms of being totally awkward and embarrassing. In some ways this book is the ugly, realistic truth about the aftermath of something so horrible. I had many qualms with this one but it doesn't erase how this book made me feel emotionally. Many authors stray from writing about 'sensitive' topics, but The Way I Used to Be took a brave step into the unknown.  

I see a lot of people praising this book for the incredible message or the character growth, but I just wasn't feeling any of that. If anything, I was more annoyed at this book than satisfied. I will never understand what happened to Eden, but I think the attempt the author took to try to understand was not the right way to go. 
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  1. I can definitely see where you're coming from with Eden and the story. It's definitely not a pleasant look at the aftermaths of such a trauma, but there are many ways people deal with it. Maybe it's because I know someone who went through something very similar, who didn't tell at first, and even after she did she went down a pretty dark path. So I can see how someone could end up acting like Eden did. This one was definitely a more tough one to get through, though. I feel like it's one that is harder to relate to, for sure. Lovely review.

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    1. I'm so happy she had someone to talk to and that you were there for her. Thanks for reading, and I definitely tried to understand the character even though I couldn't relate much to her.

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