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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
If you want to read this book, you should know going into it that The Way I Used to Be is a brutally honest portrayal of a girl trying to navigate life after rape.
And it’s only pretty in the sense that it gets pretty ugly.
Eden is incredibly self-destructive throughout the entire novel. She becomes a character who, on the outside, is hard to like. She throws away promising relationship after promising relationship, and she finds it hard to confide in anyone. She blames everyone for what’s going on in her life and tosses people like they mean nothing. Smith throws readers into Eden’s story with no holds barred, and it was horrible to see her life crumble around her, especially her relationship with her brother.
But as I’ve said before, execution is everything, and there were some great elements to this story.
For one thing, it was very well written. I really enjoyed Smith’s writing style, and I felt like I could truly hear Eden’s voice behind Amber’s words. I could understand what she was feeling, and I wanted everything for her. I can’t do justice to this book, but the best way I can say it is that Eden just needs to find a new way to be. In the end, she does, even though it’s not necessarily happy.
The ending cut off a little too abruptly for my taste, but overall, everything tied together well. Eden was a great protagonist, the kind you want to hug and be friends with, and she definitely goes down in history as a character I wish I could see twenty years from now, just to see what she’s like. Her journey was incredible to follow, and I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in it.
However, I appreciated The Way I Used to Be more after I was done reading than when I was actually reading.
It was interesting, for sure, but after the beginning, the pace started to drag. There were several conversations I skipped over, as much as I enjoy destructive stories, because they didn’t mean anything. This story didn’t have to be 384 pages, and while I don’t agree with Emily on some of her points, I do think that there were ways to do The Way I Used to Be better. I’ll be checking out some of the books she recommended, so hopefully I’ll have a follow-up on that.
I would say that anyone who doesn’t usually read realistic fiction is better off skipping this one; but this is really the only story like it that I’ve found except Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. In the way, it’s hard to rate and review. All in all, I would say read it. Just read it. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is all there, and the story will break your heart. This isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it was worth the read. 3 stars.