The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 4th 2017


Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cyndy Etler isn’t a model child, but she’s certainly not a druggie or a slut or anyone who should have ended up at Straight Inc. To the outside world Straight Inc. appeared as a drug rehabilitation centre for teens, but inside it was frighteningly more cult-like. In her cutting and honest memoir Etler shows us inside Straight Inc. and how it affected those unlucky enough to be inside.

Etler shares her story with shocking honesty and all the dirty details. What we end up with is a book that is difficult to read when you remember that it’s all true. It is difficult to believe that anyone lived the way that these teens were forced to during their time at Straight Inc.

As always, it is difficult to review a memoir of someone’s life as the plot and characters are all drawn from reality. Nevertheless, The Dead Inside proves to be a chilling and eye-opening tale of a child from a damaged family being forced into the worst circumstances and brainwashed. The slow descent into believing that Straight Inc. is a positive experience is captured expertly by Etler. It’s heartwrenching to watch her fighting spirit die and to see her slowly start to believe that she is the one who has done something wrong.

I do feel that the story was cut a little short. The sequel will cover Etler’s reintegration into society but it might have been nice to hear a bit more about that in this novel as we already know that Etler’s story ends with her thriving above and beyond any expectations. I also believe that this memoir would have benefit from a little more of Etler’s adult voice interjecting. It is fascinating and important to hear teenage Etler’s voice but the memoir seems to lack a lot of the women that Etler is now and I would have liked very much to hear more of her opinion.

The Dead Inside is not the most exciting or well-rounded novel to deal with this topic because it’s a true tale. But it is precisely because this is a real story that it is one of the most important. Anyone looking to work with teens, particularly troubled teens, should read this book. Etler’s insight into the psyche of a teen who wants to be good is absolutely invaluable.

For Fans Of: Tricks


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