Friday, September 9, 2016

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith : Book Review #2016DebAuthC

Cover of The Way I Used to BeTitle: The Way I Used To Be
Author: Amber Smith
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published Date: Mar 22, 2016
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Format: Audio
Audio Time: 9 hours, 19 minutes

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary: 
In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.
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—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman's strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.         


 My Review: 
Trigger Warning: Contains Rape and Slut Shaming

"I don't know a lot of things. I don't know why I didn't hear the door click shut. Why I didn't lock the damn door to begin with. Or why it didn't register that something was wrong - so mercilessly wrong - when I felt the mattress shift under his weight. Why I didn't scream when I opened my eyes and saw him crawling between my sheets. Or why I didn't try to fight him when I still stood a chance."

The start of this book is brutal it goes right in to what he did to her and how terrified she really was. How no one could tell anything was wrong, how she was just expected to go on like life was normal, because if she told he would kill her.
Told in four different parts following Eden’s
Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior year of high school. From the age of 14 to 18 we see how Eden tries to deal with the trauma, pain, anger, sadness and regret. We see her try and figure it out and why it happened to her. How exactly Kevin had been able to lure everyone into feeling safe with him around, and how he had even convinced Eden’s own brother that her little kid ways needed to stop and that it was all getting to be too much for her age. Just so if she did tell at that moment what he had done to her that no one would believe her.
We also see Eden go down the wrong path, with trying weed and drinking excessively and smoking cigarettes and having sex with random guys, in her efforts to try and find a piece of mind.  To try and feel whole again. Because that night changed everything forever. Since then she has transformed herself into this person who doesn’t let anything but her own anger show. That refuses to be vulnerability and acts so pissed off at the whole world that she takes out her anger on those around her. Because the one person she is angry at isn’t around anymore, and when he is around she’s terrified that he will try it again.

"And whatever he thinks my body is, it isn't. My body is a torture chamber. It's a fucking crime scene. "

And finally at the end we see Eden get her chance to tell. But can she tell something that she has had to keep secret for so long? And if she does tell now, will anyone believe her? Will they finally help her figure out how to live with this fear, anger, and sadness that she has had to deal with alone for the past four years because no one ever suspected anything?

I knew he had to be doing the same thing to Amanda as well. Just the way she acted towards Eden and how she always seemed to have this shell around herself that no one could get through.

I ended up listening to this book on audio because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to read it otherwise. Even in audio form this was hard to listen to and more than once I wanted to stop and never listen again. Smith made it all seem so realistic to me (I’m assuming it is at least) and Ross makes you feel Eden’s emotions.  
The only reason this wasn’t a five star book for me was how much angst was involved. I know she had every right to feel the way she did, but at times it just became too much with everything else going on.
I like many others still have so many unanswered questions (some that I listed above.), that I will forever want to know the answers to, but will never get them.
All I can hope for though is after reading this that anyone who this has happened to can get the courage to tell someone in authority so they don’t have to be so alone.

I will also leave you with the author's resource note at the end and include the free hotline for the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-HOPE. If you need someone, please know help is available and confidential.

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