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"[An] unnerving and heartrending memoir..."Publishers Weekly
A fast-paced memoir that gives readers a glimpse into the unbelievable reality of a young girl's 16 months in the notorious "tough love" program the ACLU called "a concentration camp for throwaway kids."
I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi's jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.
From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was...well, it was something else.
All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a "drug rehabilitation" facility that changed her world.
To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to "treat" its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered "healing."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network for the free copy of the book - all opinions are my own. I have been struggling with this review for days and have come up with no other way to say it: this book did nothing for me. I could not connect with her voice at all, despite how desperately I wanted to. (I was really looking forward to reading this book.) I’m aware that I’m in the minority here, but I can’t change the fact that I couldn’t connect. This book is definitely resonating with other readers, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. It’s important to know that Etler doesn’t gloss over any of the hard parts, and I give her kudos for being able to relive her past in order to shed light on what this group was doing behind closed doors. To anyone considering this book, I would say give it a try. Etler has an important story to tell and it’s going to strike a chord with a lot of readers.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via NetGalley for an honest review. WOW. When I say WOW, I mean...Holy S*** WOW. I have to say guys, I wasn’t expecting this story to turn out like that at all. A few months ago I was looking through the new books on Netgalley, found this story and immediately requested it. I had heard about these types of camps and institutions years ago, but I have never looked into them that deeply. This story follows Cyndy Etler as she recounts her adolescence and her time in a “tough love” style rehabilitation camp. At the young age of fourteen, Cyndy is thrown into a boarding school by her mother, or so she thinks. Cyndy quickly realizes that her new home is called Straight Inc., and it is actually a drug rehabilitation center for youths. From her first moments stepping inside Straight, Cyndy begins to realize that the methods used in the facility are far from normal. From being dragged down hallways by her pant loops, group meetings where teenagers wave their arms around erratically chanting, and frightening moments of being broken down by her peers…Cyndy has to decide how she is going to survive in this program. So let’s first begin with how SERIOUSLY BIZARRE these programs are. Cyndy explains the more than frightening and psychologically damaging rules and things that went on at Straight, and I am still in shock. Kids are lead around by the back of their pants, forced to believe they have drug problems even if they don’t, screamed at and put down by their peers, and encouraged to report each other in order to get ahead in the program. The rules that the program instills is even more absurd. If you lean on the back of your chair in group, a peer will roughly drag their first down your spine to remind you to keep your back straight. As a newcomer, Cyndy wasn’t allowed to look or speak to any boys, and she was monitored at all times…even in the bathroom. I think the oddest aspect of this program for me was what they called “motivating”. “Motivating” entails all these kids to be sitting in plastic chairs, boys and girls separated on either side of the room. Basically what happens is they flail their arms around above their heads, jerking and screaming about. Cyndy describes this process as a way to motivate each other to want to share your experiences, but admits that many of the kids “motivate” so hard so that they won’t be called on. Once called on, the kids are expected to stand up and admit a story from their past…but in most cases these kids are forced to make something up in order to impress the staff. If you mess up or do something wrong, you are confronted. This is where a peer may run up to you and start screaming in your face, or even psychically harm you. For my full review, go to my blog: Jenacidebybibliophile.wordpress.com
4.5 stars Oh, to be “cool.” This novel was one of those books that after I read it, I stopped and reflected about what actually I had just read. I thought there were moments inside this novel that had excellent issues to ponder and the novel being a memoir made it hit home even harder. It wasn’t that Cyndy was a bad kid, she had just wanted to be with the cool kids and get away from her home life. She experimented with drugs just a few times to look “cool” and after reading the novel, I thought what could she had done differently because what she did now would change her life forever. Cyndy thought she had finally become someone as she was now “cool” but this “coolness” came at a cost. No longer listening to her mother, her mother had her arrested and foster care became her new home. She loved it here, she had rules but no one touched her and she was accountable for herself. Her time was up and her mother found her a new place, Straight, Inc. To me, it felt it was like a cult, the children all behaving in automation. This drug rehab center for teens was in a warehouse, where it was worse than boot camp, where the teens lie just to get a ticket out. With honest accounts, Cyndy tells her story of being a straightling. I listened intently as she told her story, absorbed as she lives her days out in the straightling facility. She doesn’t feel she belongs there but she has no choice now, she crossed the line. I had a hard time sitting still at the meetings, her mother gathering the support of the others around her, she played the victim well. Her child, Cyndy carrying the weight of her childhood, feeling alone in the sea of others around her. Did it really need to come to this? When did it all go wrong? She was so desperate to fit it, the ramifications of her actions she didn’t see coming and what other choices could she had made? This was an excellent novel and a hard one to read thinking that this was a true story. I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Sourcebook Fire in exchange for an honest review,