FEATURED IMAGE | The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler

Review: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler

“As I’m telling the story, I’m back there.I’m feeling it happen, the way more than I did when it actually happened.”

Official synopsis from Goodreads:

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.”

The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler book coverGENRE: Memoir/Non-fiction
ISBN: 1492635731
FORMAT: E-pub / Kindle Edition
PUBLICATION DATE: April 4th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire 
GET A COPY: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository



I am in no position to rate someone’s life so this will be a rate-free review.

To be honest, I do not know how I’d be reviewing this one because it is a memoir. I cannot judge the characters, plot or setting. Those aspects were not invented or carefully weaved and structured in the mind of the storyteller to come up with a great plot and narrative to tell.

These accounts are memories of a real, living person. This story happened in real life, specifically to this person named Cyndy.

Cyndy Drew Etler didn’t have an easy childhood. She tried everything she could to look cool and to fit in: she wore pants (since according to her, the type of pants you wear determines whether you’re one of the cool kids or not), smoked pot with her friends, pretended to be asleep when someone tried to molest her and so on and so forth. Approval was so important for her and that was the thing she had a hard time getting. She ran away from her mom because she hated her stepfather, slept in the houses of her friends while she’s trying to be gone and away and ended up in a warehouse called Straight Inc. where chaos continued and intensified.


This book feels like a Lana del Rey or a Ginger Bronson song. It also reminded me of some fiction books I’ve read before. This, for me, is a good mix of Girl Interrupted, The Fault in Our Stars and The Bell Jar.

I think what I loved the most about this book is the writing style. I love how poetic this book is. The metaphors stated here were beautifully painted in my mind as I read them. The mention of some old music is amazing too. (Shine On You Crazy Diamond and The Wall by Floyd are my favorites.) While reading this book, I felt like I was either watching a sad 90’s movie or listening to a friend talk. It was an easy read but the contents are not easy on my eyes and my heart. And that’s okay. I think I can take that.

Overall, I like this memoir. I like the courage that Cyndy displayed both on what happened to her and in writing this story, her story. Nothing like this happened to me– I have never run away from home, been to a rehab center and all that– but I can sympathize with her. I’m really glad that what happened to her in the past didn’t totally drag her down but instead, made her a better person and a stronger woman: The woman she’s always made to become.


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Note: This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, SOURCEBOOKS Fire via NetGalley.

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Do you like reading memoirs? What is the best memoir you have read? Tell me about it in the comments section below! 🙂

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Photo of Cyndy Drew Etler

A modern-day Cinderella, Cyndy Etler was homeless at fourteen, summa cum laude at thirty. Currently a young adult author and teen life coach, Etler spent sixteen years teaching troubled teens in schools across America.

Before she was paid for teaching Etler did it for free, volunteering at public schools and facilities for runaway teens. Today she speaks at fundraisers, schools and libraries, convincing teens that books work better than drugs.

After years of hopscotching, Etler now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and dogs. Find her at http://www.cyndyetler.com.




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