Thursday, June 2, 2016

Prepare For a Brutal Read | The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

This is one of those books that I took one glance at and knew it was something I would probably like reading. I knew the subject matter and genre, but didn't pay much attention to the synopsis. Alexia @ Pretty Deadly Reviews LOVED this one, and I always take that as a great sign when I'm looking into a hard-hitting contemporary! I'm happy to say this book is one of the best I've read this year. :)

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.

*Released March 22nd 2016 from Margaret K. McElderry Books*
My Thoughts
The Way I Used to Be is brutal from page one. It starts right at the moment she is raped, so brace yourself for a gut-wrenching opening. The rest of the book is chaotic as Eden tries to cope and distance herself from who she used to be. It starts in her freshman year and you get to see how she changes throughout most of high school. Emptiness, love, sex, friendship, alcohol, family issues, emotions, lies: there's a lot in her story.

This is a very loud book with very few calm and happy moments. And I'm not counting those moments where Eden is calm due to feeling empty inside because those didn't make me feel at ease. I hated it when she felt empty! It made me sad.

All of Eden's relationships are strained. Everyone in her life is affected by her coping mechanisms, especially since they don't have any idea as to why she acts the way she does. Her relationship with her brother was the most interesting for me because it was such a big part of her life and I kept hoping for them to get along. Their fights are the biggest and most emotionally charged out of all the ones that occur in the book. 

Eden gets on everyone's nerves, which is a big reason for her strained relationships. She is a bitch to everyone. (And she knows it, so there's no use being polite about it.) Through fighting with her family to saying mean things about people to using guys for sex to pushing people away, she is by no means an easy character to...get. But that's her story. She has an incredibly difficult time coping and it hurt soooo much to read about her. Her emotions and her outbursts and her thought processes scraped away at me and left my emotions painfully raw. This book destroyed me. It's heartbreaking.

Oh, you should know that there are some hopeful and happy moments. Eden also shows her nicer side--more like her old self--sometimes. I know I'm emphasizing her pain and the chaos of her emotions (and MINE in reaction), but I wanted to mention the happy parts. They don't happen a lot, but again, it's not a happy story.

Overall, The Way I Used to Be is a bold, loud novel about a young girl who tries to cope with her rape without telling anyone what happened to her. She is filled with hate and sadness yet has an emptiness to her throughout most of her story. This book also covers changes in friendships, lies in romantic relationships, sex as a coping mechanism, and crumbling family ties. I absolutely loved this one!

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