The town where I live in, there is a indie independent bookshop called Anderson’s Bookshop (fabulous bookstore). And that bookshop holds special events called Pre-Published events where you get an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of a book. I had just finished When We Collided by Emery Lord (ARC) and I had gotten the email. After reading the symposia of the book, I was questioning myself whether or not if I should read it because it talked about rape. My mother got the book for me and herself regardless of my opinion about the book. I had told her I was questioning about it because of the subject that it was covering and yet some voice inside me told me to read it. So I then picked up the book, and I had to stop reading it.
The Way I Used To Be is Amber Smith’s first ever novel about a girl who gets raped (it’s like the first few pages and it’s really sad because she gets raped her the winter of her freshman year) and has to live through the trauma of it. The novel is a over the course of her high school years and she goes from this shy girl to this bad girl. I did not like the main character one bit. I don’t like her so much I forgot her name. The main character changes her personality and thinking after freshman year.
The main character was a shy girl who was still trying to push aside the fact that she was raped. She tries to tell her mother but her mother completely ignores her. The rape scared her so much that she can’t even sleep in her own bed and sleeps in a sleeping bag throughout the book. Which is also very sad. The girl has a huge character development that goes by very quickly. We only see around 50-100 pages of the girl as a shy person. As soon as her friend mentions her dying her hair to her, the main character is like LET ME TRY TO CHANGE TOO!!
The girl changes and starts out with getting contacts and her parents are slightly against it. The parents have to slightly understand that she is about to go into high school (aka the years of transitioning into a young adult) and if she feels like she is confident about her choice, then let her make it. The girl soon starts to try new things, one of them being having MORE SEX WITH DIFFERENT GUYS! Because that solves everything.
The poor girl’s lust is going out of control and it is really sad to see her going in that direction. I am not a rape victim and I have no idea if people who have been raped do that, but in my head, that is w r o n g. She even broke the law in the book because she was having sex with a eighteen year old guy while she is fricken fourteen years old. Did that ever cross her mind at all?
Over the course of the book, the girl tries many different things that teens might consider doing and it is really scary watching her do all of that. I literally wanted to go into the book and just take her out to guide her in the right direction. Yes, she was doing that to distract herself to not remember that she was raped her freshman year. Then one thing came up in the book. It was her junior and she was all alone (I don’t remember exactly) and she was contemplating on committing suicide and that’s where I stopped.
I’m not going in to deep with that topic, that’s for another time, but I told one of my best friends I couldn’t read it anymore because of that. He said it was completely understandable and a lot of people do do that. I had to stop reading the book after that point. I then looked on Goodreads to see if anyone else had any other similar ratings that I gave of any other similar points that I had also given. Surprisingly, there were quite a few, one review even came from a rape victim and she hated the book more than I did.
When doing the Pre-Published event, you get a chance to meet the author, talk about the book, and any other plans the author has in the future. I was also lucky enough to meet the author and talk with her. I then asked her why she decided to choose this topic to write her first novel for. Her answers were that she wanted to give a voice for the rape victims, which is completely understandable as well because the rape culture is not really mentioned in almost any YA novels/series. She also said that she had an emotional connection with the character, which still questions me today.
As a seventeen-year-old girl I am experiencing things in this world that we live in today as ADVOCATE FOR THIS THIS THIS AND THIS BUT NOT THAT THAT OR THAT. Seeing this book did not make me think that this was a voice for the rape victims. I feel like Amber could have gotten more into the main character and have her take her time and make wise choices. Overall, I did not like this book one bit.