In much the same way that Laurie Halse Anderson with Speak in 1999 aimed to shed light on the subjects of sexual assault, mental health, and forming an identity throughout one’s teenage years, Amber Smith chronicles the challenges of Eden McCrorey in her book The Way I Am Now (2023).

Raped when she was barely fourteen, Eden struggles to acknowledge compliments and accepts only the love she things she deserves. Eden is afraid she will need depression, anti-anxiety, and sleeping medication forever. Although she feels things deeply and completely, Eden disconnects herself from most of what she loves: playing the clarinet and connecting at a deeper level with another guy. Instead, she believes she’s best at failure. However, Eden’s therapist, Lane, and her best friend, Mara, won’t allow Eden to give in to the ghosts in her head.

When Josh Miller comes along, Eden isn’t sure it’s safe to let her connection to him feel good. Although Josh is responsible, dependable, and sensible, he has his own ghosts to contend with as his father oscillates in his addictions. Because basketball was something on which Josh could always depend, he thrusts himself into the game and wins an athletic scholarship to Tucker Hill University.

As the relationship between the two blossoms and the couple moves past tragedy, they learn to acknowledge their difficult emotional challenges and admit that they both know how to put the fun in dysfunctional as they navigate the chaos of college. The reader will follow the relationship’s ebb and flow and discover whether it can survive the strain when Eden gets called back home to a hearing and then a trial when her rapist Kevin Armstrong will be held accountable for the multiple rapes he has committed.

Smith’s book is a poignant one as the reader wonders whether the good parts in a relationship will be lost forever for Eden and Josh, who have to learn to accept help from friends, family, and support groups. The reader also learns that just because we’re good at something doesn’t mean it makes us happy. Along with Smith’s two protagonists, the reader recognizes the value in being resilient instead of destructive, hopeful instead of powerless, and brave in the face of risk.

  • Posted by Donna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.