STARRED REVIEW “This is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love,relationships, and life….Teens will be reminded of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. VERDICT An important addition for every collection.” ( School Library Journal)
" The Way I Used to Be explores the aftermath of sexual assault with a precision and searing honesty that is often terrifying,sometimes eerily beautiful, and always completely true. It is The Hero's Journey through a distorted circus mirror--one girl's quest to turn desperation into courage, to become a survivor instead of a victim. Amber Smith gets it exactly right." (Amy Reed, author of BEAUTIFUL and CLEAN)
Eden is a quiet band nerd and a freshman when her brother’s best friend, Kevin, rapes her. Eden’s entire life is changed from that moment. Life no longer makes sense. She believes Kevin’s threats and doesn’t tell anyone what happened. The next four years of her life are shaped by that night in large and small ways. Eden struggles to relate to her best friend and most of her other acquaintances. The teen experiments sexually in an attempt to gain control, but her inability to relate and connect create a dangerous cycle she must confront in order to move on. Smith tells Eden’s story in four parts: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year. This is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships, and life. While the rape is discussed, it is not graphic, allowing for a wider readership. Teens will be reminded of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. VERDICT-An important addition for every collection.–Cyndi Hamann,University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (School Library Journal *STARRED* January 1, 2016)
According to RAINN,the largest anti-sexual-violence organization in the U.S., 80% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, and 68% go unreported. These statistics underpin Smith’s debut, which opens with 14-year-old Eden being raped by her brother’s best friend while her family sleeps down the hall. Kevin tells good-girl, band-geek Eden that no one will believe her, and she’s sure that he is right: Kevin is her brother’s teammate and roommate, and her family revolves around her brother. While Eden changes virtually overnight, no one knows what happened—largely, it seems, because no one wants to. Smith tracks Eden through her four years in high school, spotlighting her shifting relationship with her friend Mara, the caring boyfriend she lies to, and her increasing acting outwith booze and sex. It’s painful to watch Eden disintegrate but also true to the double burden she carries—the violation of the rape and the weight of carrying the secret. The long-term view Smith takes of Eden’s story makes it all the more satisfying when she does find her voice. Ages 14–up. (Publishers Weekly December 14, 2015)
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.
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