The Way I Used to Be

The Way I Used to Be

For Ages: 14 and up
  • 1
A New York Times bestseller.

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel “is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships, and life” (School Library Journal, starred 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—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, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481449366 | 
  • March 2017 | 
  • Grades 9 and up | 
  • Lexile ® HL640L
List Price $10.99
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Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide for

The Way I Used to Be

By Amber Smith

 

Book Description

For most of her life, Eden has been a shy, dorky girl whose life is simple and unremarkable. Her life revolves around her family, her clarinet, and her small circle of friends, until one day, her brother’s best friend, who is like family, assaults her, and Eden realizes her life will never be the same. She changes her appearance so that people see her in a new way. She vows never to be the shy, quiet Edy who felt so defenseless that day. Eden cannot go back and change that night, but she can change what happens next.         

Discussion Questions

1.) The morning after Eden is raped, she is hesitant to tell her mother. What did Kevin tell Eden to discourage her from telling anyone? What about her mother’s tone makes Eden change her mind? Discuss what might have happened if Eden’s mother had been a more supportive listener. 

2.) Eden and the guy she calls “Number 12” crash into each other in the hallway, and Eden has a strong reaction. Describe Eden’s thought process after their encounter. What word(s) does she use to capture how she is feeling? The reader is given no reason to believe that Number 12 bumped into her on purpose, so discuss why Eden reacts this way.

3.) Near the end of her see more

About the Author

Amber Smith
Photo by Deborah Triplett

Amber Smith

Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her two dogs. After graduating from art school with a BFA in painting, she earned her MA in art history. When she’s not writing, she is working as a curator and art consultant. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art. She is the author of The Way I Used to Be and The Last to Let Go. Visit her online at AmberSmithAuthor.com.

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