The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith (362 pages)
Overview: The Way I Used To Be tells Eden's story of abuse and how that impacted her life throughout her high school career. The novel opens right before she starts her freshmen year when her brother's best friend rapes her. Terrified and threatened, Eden tells no one, not that she thinks her family would believe her because Kevin is essentially part of her family. During freshman year, these events cause her to wind farther into herself. Then, during sophomore year, her best friend Mara decides that they need to change their looks in order to rise in social standing. She starts attracting attention of other guys while some of the other girls start to spread nasty rumors about her. Eden begins to engage in riskier and riskier behaviors to feel like she is gaining control of both her body and her personhood back. As she struggles with the horrible trauma that she's hidden from everyone, it starts to put strain on every relationship she has until she is left feeling completely alone. Amber Smith has written a stunning, heart wrenching novel that makes you keep turning the pages and your heart hurt for Eden and everyone who has faced the abuse she did. Overall: 5
Characters: 5 Eden is so raw and realistic, she makes for a wonderful main character. Her inner struggle and the way that informs her choices creates a reading experience like no other. I felt so deeply implanted in her head. Getting to see her evolution over four years made the character feel so strongly real. Her friends and family also made a very compelling cast that heavily influenced how Eden morphed, changed, and felt in general and about herself.
Plot: 5 I could not put the book down. I finished it in one day of constant reading. I had to know what happened next. The plot was so well developed, every chapter built to the most satisfying ending.
Writing: 5 I applaud Amber Smith for her amazing ability to craft the most amazing, important, compelling novel that needed to be written about such a difficult subject that touches us all. The choices she made when writing it were phenomenal for crafting the story. By keeping her chapters short, it keeps the pace moving. Also, by telling it four parts, her four years in high school, it creates a full and amazing story. And even at points that made my heart heart hurt, the narrative was so beautifully written that I was just left in awe.
Writing Page: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/p/writing_2.html