Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ARC Review: The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith
Published: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 384
Received: from publisher (Simon & Schuster Canada) for honest review
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Wow, what a story. I am amazed at how emotional this book made me. I knew the subject matter would be emotional in itself, but I didn't realize how much this character, Eden, would affect me. Following Eden through her high school years and trying to forget what happened to her during freshman year, is a roller coaster. A once sweet, caring girl turns into someone who hates the world and doesn't care about anything. It's like she has shut down all emotions and pushes everyone away who tries to get close. She uses sex and drinking to numb her thoughts and to make her detach from reality. It's disturbing and extremely sad to watch her spiral out of control. But in reality I can see how this could happen to someone who has been raped. 

People will say, why didn't she tell anyone. But I can see how it wouldn't  be that easy to do if you felt threatened or if it was someone everyone loved. It would be horrible to keep the secret. It's destructive, but understandable. 

It's such a heartbreaking story and I know that many female characters that have been raped are portrayed a certain way, but this does not detract from the story. I've read some reviews where people were upset that this book followed a certain "plot line", but honestly this book is written in a way that you connect with the main character, Eden, and feel everything she is feeling. I think it's an important voice to help those dealing with the issue of rape/abuse to speak out, to know they are not alone. 

I commend Ms. Smith for writing about this topic and handling in a very realistic way. Not once did I feel like this couldn't have happened or wouldn't have happened. Every scene made sense to Eden's mental state.

I do not use a star ratings on my blog anymore, but this is one of the best reads so far for 2016. 

About the Author:
Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, NY and now lives in Charlotte, NC with her two dogs. After graduating from art school with a BFA in Painting, she earned her MA in Art History. When she’s not writing, she is working as a curator and art consultant. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art. The Way I Used to Be is her first novel. 

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