We Can’t Be Friends: A True Story
by Cyndy Drew Etler
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.
- 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.