Friday, October 6, 2017

Guest Post: Author Cyndy Etler on 'We Can't Be Friends'

Release date: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository{Affiliate Link}

Synopsis via Goodreads:
High school sucks for a lot of people. High school extra sucks when you believe, deep in your soul, that every kid in the school is out to get you. I wasn't popular before I got locked up in Straight Inc., the notorious "tough love" program for troubled teens. So it's not like I was walking around thinking everyone liked me.

But when you're psychologically beaten for sixteen months, you start to absorb the lessons. The lessons in Straight were: You are evil. Your peers are evil. Everything is evil except Straight, Inc.

Before long, you're a true believer.

And when you're finally released, sent back into the world, you crave safety. Crave being back in the warehouse. And if you can't be there, you'd rather be dead.


Why Do I Write Provocative Memoir? Because I Have No Choice

There’s a writing maxim out there that strikes me as heavy-handed. It goes, “You know you’re a writer if you have to write, to live.” So maybe I’m not a real writer, because I can exist, you know? With just food and water. I don’t die if I’m not writing. Same way I don’t die if I don’t eat desert.
Actually, I write for the same reason I eat desert: because I really frigging love it. Because writing, like sugar, makes me feel extra-alive.
But I didn’t write my memoirs—first The Dead Inside, then We Can’t Be Friends—because I wanted to eat desert. I was compelled to write them, for the same reason you were compelled to puke up that shellfish that gave you food poisoning: I had a plague inside me, and I had to get it out.
The abuse I endured at home as a child is describable. People know what to visualize when you say the words “chased,” “hit,” and “molested.” The abuse I endured at Straight Inc.—the notorious “troubled teen” facility where I was locked up at age 14—is not so describable. Because the things they did to me in there, and the things they made me do, aren’t done.
Try this. Ready? In your mind’s eye, picture what I’m talking about when I say these words:
Spit Therapy.
Attack Therapy.
You know what I’m saying? Nope. You don’t. Unless you were in a Straight-related program, or you’ve read about them, you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Now, let’s try this: think of the phrase “drug rehab.”
Now we’re on the same page, right? Brown cushioned chairs, lots of talking, lots of…I don’t know, coffee and cigarette breaks and shuffling around the program’s grounds, I guess?
Yeah, no. Not at Straight Inc. I mean, Straight called itself a drug rehab. But there was no coffee. There were no walks. And I was no drug addict. Not unless you can call a barely-teen kid who’s barely smoked weed an “addict.”
No, Straight was a—was a—was an abuse factory. A cult. A “concentration camp for throwaway teens,” according to the ACLU. Straight was a warehouse packed with broken children, a brilliant money-making scheme where parents, for a fee, could disappear the kid they didn’t want to deal with.
When I finally woke up to my memories of Straight, 15 years after the fact, I had to get them out. I had to tell people about it. I had to have it validated that, “Holy crap, you got messed up!” Like that skanky shellfish, I had to purge it from my system.
But there was no way to describe it to people. If I say to you, “I was sent to rehab, and it made me want to kill myself,” what’re you gonna think? Take your pick:
A) Oh, you were a bad kid, an addict. You deserved it.
B) Rehab? Made you want to kill yourself? What kind of baby are you?
C) Poor little priv-kid thinks “rehab” is hard times. Ha! Hahahahaha….
So I had to write my experience. I had to take you in there. I had to have you live it, this “rehab.” This psych abuse. This brainwashing, this torture. I didn’t have the words for it, but I had the emotions. The setting. The dialogue. The spit therapy.
I can’t tell you about Straight Inc, or what it was like trying to reintegrate to the world when I finally got out. But by writing a book so hot you can’t put it down, I can make you experience it.
Maybe that’s what that smug writing maxim is actually trying to say. Here, let me fix it.
“If the story inside you feels like a sickness, kid? You better write, that, book.”
Right. Much better.

About the Author
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.

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