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

* “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 (STARRED REVIEW)

“A difficult, painful journey, but teens who have experienced rape and abuse will be grateful for this unvarnished and ultimately hopeful portrait.”


“A heart-twisting, but ultimately hopeful, exploration of how pain can lead to strength.”

The Boston Globe

“This isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important one… I was incredibly moved by Smith’s powerful writing, and Eden’s story of growth and survival is one you won’t want to miss.”

– Seventeen




* “Smith’s deeply felt sophomore effort (following The Way I Used to Be, 2016) explores the rippling effects of domestic violence and its ability to carry through generations… Vivid characterizations of the extended family Brooke gets to know, along with others who people her first year on her own, bring the story to life.”


* “Extremely realistic and heartbreaking.”


“Smith shows great skill in navigating such a serious issue with both sensitivity and realistic outcomes. VERDICT: A well-crafted and honest look at family issues and a good pick for fans of Sara Zarr and Laurie Halse Anderson. Highly recommended.”

– School Library Journal

“Smith (The Way I Used to Be) takes up domestic violence and its far-reaching consequences in this empathetic novel… But Smith never sugarcoats Brooke’s life; she’s forced to make peace with her new reality, one that readers must accept alongside her in this difficult, honest novel.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Complex and nuanced.”

– B&N Teen Blog