I picked up The Dead Inside from Netgalley a few months ago and it took me some time to get to it. I’m glad to have read it and you can see my review below. To see the Q&A with Cyndy Etler, please click HERE.
The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler
This review may contain some spoilers…
The Dead Inside is a compelling memoir written by the author Cyndy Drew Etler. Cyndy was a troubled teen in the 80’s who had some experiences that aren’t all that uncommon. She was making wrong choices while trying to find her place in the world. She spends some of her time smoking weed and drinking alcohol with her friends, until she finally runs away from home because she just can’t take her family anymore, especially her step-dad, Jacque. There were things going on in that house that no child should ever have to succumb to. After making the decision to enter Foster Care, Cyndy finally has some peace. She’s able to still see her friends, have a safe environment and doesn’t have to deal with the turmoil from home. It’s not long after that, at the age of 14, her mother decides to throw her into a drug rehabilitation for throwaway kids who are deemed out of control. Cyndy is told that she is under evaluation for three days and she’s counting down the minutes to when she can leave and she’ll do whatever it takes, including lying. Straight, Inc. will now be Cyndy’s home for 16 months.
The story itself is unbelievable. I had a very hard time reading parts of the book that describe the physical and mental abuse these kids are exposed to in this program. They are basically in this building with a load of other drug users who have been sent there for the same reason and are used against each other. I can’t believe that it went on for so long and these kids had to endure it. They were locked down and not allowed to have any interaction with the outside world for a very long time. It’s violent and almost seems like torture at times. As I continued reading, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to Cyndy. Would she ever escape? Will her mother ever realize her and her husband are the majority of the problems here? Will Cyndy be able to endure this treatment without losing it and causing herself to be set back?
The book is written very well and it doesn’t sound like there are many details spared. I did wonder throughout the story just exactly how bad was Cyndy as a teen? It seemed like all of her problems were stemming from her treatment at home and the lack of love from her mother. I was very happy that there was an epilogue included in the back which explains these programs and how they were eventually shut down, but at the same time shocked at how, in a way, they worked. The kids were basically brainwashed.
This is not an easy read or for the faint of heart. It’s extremely revealing, raw and horrifying at times and I wanted to get up and do something about it. I wanted to help Cyndy. It’s no surprise that she ended up in the career she has chosen and I commend her for her bravery in taking a very negative human experience and turning it into a lifetime career in helping others.
Thanks to Netgalley and the author for sharing this book with me in exchange for an honest review.
For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen 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.” Continue reading “The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler – Straight, Inc.”