The Dead Inside: A True Story, by Cyndy Etler.
Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”
“I never was a bada$$. 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.” Read Publisher’s Weekly review here.
Beck, by Mal Peet (with Meg Rosoff). Born of a brief encounter between a Liverpool prostitute and an African soldier in 1907, Beck finds himself orphaned as a young boy and sent overseas to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. At age fifteen he is sent to work on a farm, from which he eventually escapes. Finally in charge of his own destiny, Beck starts westward, crossing the border into America and back, all while the Great Depression rages on. What will it take for Beck to understand the agonies of his childhood and realize that love is possible? Read Publisher’s Weekly starred review here.
P.S. I Like You, by Kasie West. Exchanging notes with a mysterious pen pal by writing them on her Chemistry desk, Lily discovers that her anonymous friend is a boy and realizes that she is falling for him before learning that he is the last person she ever expected to love. Read the TeenReads review here.
The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson. David Piper, always an outsider, forms an unlikely friendship with Leo Denton who, from the first day at his new school wants only to be invisible, but when David’s deepest secret gets out that he wants to be a girl, things get very messy for both of them. Read The Guardian review here.