The Dead Inside - a true memoir

The Dead Inside - Cyndy Drew Etler

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,