Book Review: We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story by Cyndy Drew Etler #BookReview #AuthorInterview #NGEW2018

We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story

by Cyndy Drew Etler


From Goodreads:

For the readers of GO ASK ALICE, TWEAK, and DEAR NOBODY, Etler details her turbulent readjustment to life at home and high school after spending sixteen months in Straight, Inc. Advertised as a rehab program for troubled teens, in reality, Straight subjected Cyndy and her fellow Straightlings to cultlike brainwashing and bizarre “treatment” methods.

There was no privacy, no freedom, and no room for error. But when Cyndy is finally released, she discovers she’s living by an entirely different set of rules than her peers. What new extremes will she go to in order to fit in?

My thoughts on this book:

We Can’t Be Friends is Cyndy Etler’s second book which focuses on her life after spending 16 months at Straight, Inc., a program for troubled teens. This book picks up right after she’s released from Straight, but Cyndy does reflect back and wrote about her experiences at Straight in the beginning of the book for those who haven’t read the first The Dead Inside. You can jump right into this one, but I would still highly recommend you read The Dead Inside first.

Cyndy struggles to adapt to the real world again after her time at Straight. Like most teens, she just wants to fit in. It appears that everyone just automatically assumes she’s healed after her experience at Straight, and nobody seems to understand how difficult this is for her. She still has difficulties with her mother, who obviously has some serious psychological issues. In the book she shares experiences she has at home, with her teachers and counselors, events at school with her peers, and relationships with boys. She struggles with real life and wonders if she’d be better off back at Straight so she can feel safe again.

Cyndy has an insane amount of scarring at a young age. It’s to the point to where it’s difficult for her to decipher from what’s right and wrong, and from truth. I can’t imagine how hard this must’ve been for her. The book was a little difficult to read at times and I felt much sympathy for her. It’s like nobody is on her side and she can’t catch a break. She needs to be loved and can’t even get some simple support! It’s good to know that she turned out to be an awesome human being who now helps counsel teens in need.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t as invested in this second book as I was with the first, perhaps because I learned about Straight in The Dead Inside and was so shocked by how she was treated. How had I never heard about Straight, Inc. before then? I looked forward to reading this book to find out what life was like for Cyndy after Straight and that’s exactly what I got. This book was written a little differently and shares Cyndy’s experiences in chronological format after Straight. I think it was a little harder to read as a lot of thoughts are shared in between, but overall, it was good and I’m glad I read it.


I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492660906
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492660903

If you’d like to see my original in-depth interview with Cyndy Etler regarding her experiences at Straight and her first book The Dead Inside, you can click HERE

Find The Dead Inside on Goodreads and Amazon:


This is book #19 for my NetGalley Reading Challenge which can be viewed HERE.


Thanks for reading my review. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

❤ Mischenko

25 thoughts on “Book Review: We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story by Cyndy Drew Etler #BookReview #AuthorInterview #NGEW2018

  1. Pingback: Reading Challenges 2018 – Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge #NGEW2018 and Ultimate Reading Challenge #UltimateReadingChallenge – ReadRantRock&Roll

  2. It looks like an interesting read, although I don’t think I’d read it, because having had a younger sister who had a terrible drug addiction and went to rehab (thankfully she’s been clean nearly 15 years now but it was rough) it seems like it would strike a little too close to home. It’s amazing the world of rehab and what goes on there. Great review as always, Jen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand, Vanessa. I think what struck me so hard with Cyndy’s story is that she wasn’t a bad kid. She wasn’t really doing much of anything when her mom had her locked up in Straight! It’s crazy. If you check out my interview with her, I think I added some videos of what Straight was like. Scary.

      I’m really glad your sister is doing well now. It’s wonderful that she got the help she needed. Thanks for sharing. 💚❤💚 Hope all is well!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wonder about parents, sometimes. Having never had kids, I hesitate to say anything that is critical, but also having had a very difficult relationship with a mother who was EXTREMELY mean most of the time, I also feel confident in saying that a lot of parenting is f*cked up. Pardon my language. Anyway, hope you and your family and your sweet dogs are all well!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m so sorry to hear it. I know what you mean though. My dad was an alcoholic and things were never easy. I’m certainly not a perfect parent, but I try very hard to be thr best I can be. In Cyndy’s case, her mom seemed to have some real psychological issues, but because she was the parent, she made the decisions and Cyndy just had to deal with it. It’s sad. I know it happens all too often.

          Everything is good here and dogs are doing great! Hope you guys are well too. 💚❤💚

          Liked by 2 people

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  4. David R. Dowdy

    Too many people become parents too easily. They don’t know how to leave a little blue sky in reserve when it comes to their relationship with their kids. They break when their children repeatedly resist. Why not enroll future parents in Straight?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you. I think too many know they shouldn’t be having kids and know they can’t afford them, yet they still have them anyway either by accident or carelessness. In Cyndy’s case, she wasn’t anywhere near as bad as some of the kids I went to school with. I still think it’s nuts that she was put in Straight to begin with and wonder how many didn’t belong there. It appears from how the place was managed, nobody belonged there. The dynamics were insane. Just watch the videos. Thanks, David! ❤🎄


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  6. Lorilin

    This one sounds interesting. It must have been so hard for her. I went through some stuff as a teen, but luckily it was still kept quiet enough that most people didn’t know details. It’s tough when your drama is out there for everyone to know and criticize…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been, especially living with the way her mom was (going by the story). It’s insane. Plus, like you say, once she got out she had to deal with that stigma. Glad she’s doing well now. Thanks for checking out my review. ❤💚❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fantastic review Jen. This and its companion book sound like they would be very difficult to read. How a parent can do that to their child shocks me. I am adding them to my TBR, but not sure if and when I will read them. I need to be in a certain frame of mind I think,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. starjustin

    It is very sad that Cyndi had to go through what she did and even sadder her relationship with her mom. I’m glad to hear she turned it all into something positive. The documentary on Straight are truly sickening. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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