The Way I Used to Be
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith takes a long term look at the effect sexual assault has on a high school girl. Eden is a ninth grader when she is attacked by her brother’s best friend, and spends the next four years internalizing and processing the attack. I really admired the premise of this story and looked forward to reading a novel that focuses on the victim and their feelings and healing process, as opposed to the attack itself, or the perpetrators motives and actions.
I think Smith does a great job portraying the vast array of emotions a victim can experience after being assaulted. However, despite the character development that Eden showed, many of the other characters felt one-dimensional. This is most obvious in Eden’s parents. While acknowledging that Eden and her parents clearly have a strained relationship, regardless of the attack, the fact that they don’t notice or question that fact that their daughter sleeps on the floor rather than her bed for over three years, paints them as more neglectful than distant. While I appreciate the importance of the premise behind The Way I Used to Be, the delivery fell short of expectations.
Margaret K. McElderry Books