Author: Cyndy Etler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published Date: April 4th 2017
Genre: non-fiction, memoir, abuse, YA
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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."
"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 that felt like love."
Mentions of Rape, Child abuse (physical/mental), Drugs, Drinking, Self-Harm, Slut-shaming
Honestly I don't feel like I can properly review such a book as this.
Going into this I didn't realize it was a memoir until I started reading it. That fact also made it all the more heartbreaking as you read what happened to Etler and 40,000 other teenagers all in the name of helping them get clean and sober and back to being a good little child that there parents wanted. Before we see her at Straight, Inc though we see her home life and how her stepfather is a truly awful man and her mom no better for letting it happen to her and not doing or saying anything to stop it. We can see why Etler wanted to get tough and made the friends she did and started to be around drugs. She wasn't a truly troubled child, she was one that was just trying to survive. Everything goes horribly wrong for Etler when her mom decides to send her away from the foster care center and into a boarding school she is told. But in all actuality the boarding school is actually be Straight, Inc. Who was supposed to help her get clean and sober and back onto the right path. Instead it turned vibrant slightly rebellious teenagers into zombies so afraid to do or say anything unless it was admitting to something they most likely had not actually done in order to avoid a beating rather it be physically or verbally.
Straight, Inc did more harm than good to all of these teenagers. It turned the things that had happened to them that they had no control of stopping, and convinced them that they deserved what happened to them or that they had caused it by being a slut, or a druggie. Any mention of their lives before Straight, Inc. was forbidden unless it was to confess to something they had done and realized that they had created said problem and deserved the consequences.
It made the outside world away from the warehouse building they were in terrifying. While Etler was able to make it out of the program alive and after a time and with the help of many other truly caring adults was able to make a good life for herself. Where she does what she's had wanted to do since being placed in Foster Care and realized that people out there did care and wanted to help in a good and healthy way.
Despite how tough of a read this is I had to find out what was going to happen to Etler in this place and if she was going to make it out alive. Having said that, I do think it is an important. Because while Straight, Inc isn't around anymore, spin-off ones have been created in its place that are still running today. This is a story that all should read if they can handle the things talked about in it.
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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