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The Way I Used to Be – Amber Smith

Thank you very much to the publishers, Rock the Boat, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

TW: Rape, sexual assault, substance abuse.

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.

The Way I Used to Be is a truly unforgettable book that I will forever be recommending. It is an extraordinary portrayal of trauma and I don’t think a book has made me as emotional as this one in a long time. I would highly recommend this book but please ensure you check the trigger warning before going in. TW: Rape, sexual assault, substance abuse.

Eden was always good at being good and starting high school didn’t change who she was. But, when her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes. What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden loved and who she loved, she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore and she knows she is supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So, she buries it instead along with the way she used to be.

Eden’s story is unflinching, raw, powerful, emotional and incredibly real. It is told over the course of four years, which seems a lot for a book with just under 400 pages but it works excellently. We see Eden’s personality and voice change across the four years as she transitions from a teenager to a young woman whilst seeing how the trauma affects her throughout. She is a such a powerful character and her development is well constructed throughout the story. Her story is heart-breaking and we really see her dealing with the affects her sexual assault has had on her in the most honest and raw way.

There is obviously a plot to this story, but the overall story is definitely driven by its characters and the things they are dealing with. Eden’s character has certainly opened my eyes to how different each sexual assault survivors story is and how the experience is unique to each person. Her story is one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

The Way I Used to Be discusses some incredibly important aspects of sexual assault. It shows how it can affect more than just the people directly involved, how it changes you as a person and serves as a reminder that we rarely know what’s happening in other people’s lives. I think that everyone needs to read this book to help us with being more compassionate to those around us and how they may just need us to be a little kinder whilst they are dealing with a lot of trauma.

Amber Smith’s writing is raw, heart-breaking and beautiful. This book and its writing will stay with me for a very long time. I will definitely be reading more books by Amber Smith in the future because this one is stunning.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Way I Used to Be. It is a complex, heart-breaking and hopeful novel that will open your eyes. Please check the trigger warnings before going into this story! It is certainly worth the read.

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