The Way I Used To Be Summary: A Compelling Story Of A Young Girl's Journey


The Way I Used to Be is a young adult novel written by Amber Smith. It tells the story of a high school girl named Eden who experiences a traumatic event that changes her life forever. The novel explores themes of trauma, grief, self-blame, and healing. Published in 2016, it quickly became a New York Times bestseller and a must-read for young adults.

The Storyline

The novel opens with Eden, a freshman in high school, being raped by her brother’s best friend, Kevin. The author portrays the event in a very raw, realistic way, leaving a powerful impact on the reader. The story then follows Eden as she struggles to keep the traumatic event a secret and cope with the aftermath. The novel is divided into four sections, each representing a year of high school, and each section captures Eden’s emotional journey.

Eden’s Struggle with Self-Blame

Eden’s struggle with self-blame is a central theme throughout the novel. She feels guilty and responsible for what happened to her and believes that she somehow brought it upon herself. Her feelings of shame and worthlessness prevent her from seeking help and confiding in her friends and family. She turns to self-destructive behavior, such as drinking and casual sex, as a way to cope with her pain.

The Impact of Trauma on Eden’s Relationships

Eden’s trauma has a profound effect on her relationships with others. She becomes withdrawn and isolated, pushing away her friends and family. She also struggles to form new relationships, fearing that she will be hurt again. The novel portrays the complexity of trauma and how it can affect every aspect of a person’s life.

The Healing Process

The novel also explores the healing process and the importance of seeking help. Eden eventually confides in her best friend, Mara, and seeks therapy. Through therapy, she learns to confront her trauma and work through her feelings of self-blame. The author portrays the healing process in a very realistic way, highlighting the ups and downs and the time it takes to heal.

The Importance of Support

The novel emphasizes the importance of support in the healing process. Eden’s friends and family may not always understand what she’s going through, but they are there for her and provide her with the love and support she needs. The author also touches on the role of the justice system in cases of sexual assault and how it can contribute to the survivor’s healing process.

The Impact of The Way I Used to Be

The Way I Used to Be has had a profound impact on readers since its release. It has sparked important conversations about sexual assault, trauma, and healing. The novel has been praised for its honest portrayal of the complexities of trauma and the healing process. It has also been criticized for its graphic depiction of sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers.

The Novel’s Relevance Today

The Way I Used to Be remains relevant today, as sexual assault continues to be a prevalent issue. The novel provides an important perspective on the emotional impact of sexual assault and the importance of seeking help. It also sheds light on the stigma and shame that survivors may feel and the need to break the silence surrounding sexual assault.


The Way I Used to Be is a must-read for young adults. It tells a compelling story of a young girl’s journey through trauma and healing. The novel explores important themes that are relevant today, such as sexual assault, trauma, and healing. It is a powerful reminder of the impact of trauma on a person’s life and the importance of seeking help and support.