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VOYA Review



VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) October 2013 Issue

Rating: 3Q 4P S

Etler, Cyndy Drew. Straightling: A Memoir. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,

2013. 252p. $9.99 Trade pb. 978-1469902807.


At 14 years of age, Cyndy is taken to a facility called Straight by her mother, who claims she

is an out-of-control, aggressively angry teen who keeps running away. What her mother does

not mention is that Cyndy is running away from the physical and sexual abuse of her stepfather,

and running to places where she desperately seeks a sense of belonging. Cyndy’s only sense of

comfort comes from listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and from hoping she has found

new friends who accept her, but who are are actually furthering the abuse cycle. Her disbelief

at the insanity at Straight turns to desperate obedience, as abuse and brainwashing leave her no

other choice.

Etler’s self-published memoir of her 16-month lockup in a hellish “drug rehab” is a disturbing

and intense read. In this “school edition,” the author tells us that the more intense language and

content has been left out…but this is not a book for the squeamish. Each chapter is followed by

discussion questions, and although the questions are good, their placement disrupts the flow of

the story. Etler’s epilogue tells the rest of her story, as she finally finds a sense of herself and

turns to helping troubled teens. No question, high school students who find their way to this book

will be swallowed by its horrors and intensity. High school counselors and those involved with at

risk-students will want to add Straightling to their collections, and offer it to students, as well.

-Mary Ann Darby

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