Raw and absorbing, Etler’s voice captivates.

READ REVIEW

THE DEAD INSIDE

A TRUE STORY

In this debut memoir, Etler takes readers on a harrowing journey into Straight Inc., a nightmarish drug rehab that used controversial methods to “treat” its patients.

At 14, Cyndy Etler was a white teenager desperately looking for a place to belong. Trying to escape from the abusive hands of her stepfather, she finds solace in Pink Floyd, God, and Bridgeport, the Connecticut city where she can escape with her best friend on weekends. When her mother reports her as a runaway, she sets off a chain of events that lands Cyndy at Straight Inc., a drug-rehabilitation facility in Virginia. Bewildered, Cyndy is sure she will be released as soon as the staff realizes she is not a drug addict. She cannot imagine that she will be stuck in this place—“a warehouse, literally…where, for a fee, parents can disappear their fuckups and rejects”—for the next 16 months. The treatment at Straight is bizarre and abusive, consisting largely of peer-led intimidation, emotional abuse, and mind games where the extensive rules are strictly enforced by the “group.” Cyndy’s progression into Stockholm syndrome is shocking yet wholly believable. Etler channels her younger self’s voice with pitch-perfect verisimilitude as Cyndy goes from wide-eyed disbelief to acquiescence, having finally found a place where she feels like she belongs. An epilogue offers a redemptive conclusion, and an author's note provides chilling context for Straight's history and Cyndy's story.

Raw and absorbing, Etler’s voice captivates. (author’s note) (Memoir. 15 & up)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3573-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A grim but worthy read.

A CAVE IN THE CLOUDS

A YOUNG WOMAN'S ESCAPE FROM ISIS

This book chronicles the traumatic story of Ahmed, a young Ezidi woman who was abducted by Islamic State group forces from her village in northern Iraq and subsequently forced into sexual slavery.

Ahmed’s ordeal began at age 18, when IS’ army rolled into her native village of Kocho, thwarting her family’s attempt to seek refuge in the surrounding mountains. The village population was promptly split between the men, driven to an unknown fate, and the women and children, rounded up in a nearby school before being forced aboard trucks heading to neighboring Syria. Months of captivity in the most extreme conditions ensued before she was finally sold—alongside Navine, a friend met in captivity, and her nephew, Eivan, who she pretended was her son—to al-Amriki, an American citizen–turned-emir, a high-ranking position in IS’ military hierarchy. In a succession of fortunate circumstances and bold decisions, the trio managed to escape, first from the compound where they were held captive, and then from Syria toward a Turkish refugee camp. Ahmed, reunited with what was left of her family, attempted to heal her wounds and rebuild her life. The first-person narration provides important context for those unfamiliar with the Ezidi. Readers will find it hard not to empathize and be moved by Ahmed’s heart-wrenching ordeal and will likely forgive some of the book’s naïve essentialisms, plot holes, and unfortunate Eurocentrisms.

A grim but worthy read. (authors’ note, map, epilogue) (Nonfiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-235-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

MY HOUSE CHEF

: COOKING WITH LORY AND MAZEL

This highly original children’s cookbook is full of delicious and imaginative recipes, but could benefit from adding healthier and lower-fat alternative recipes.

Whether it’s a beef-filled zucchini boat riding atop a sea of blue spaghetti or fudge cars with gumdrop wheels and lollipop passengers, these fanciful recipes are sure to tempt children. Lory and Mazel are two cartoon mice who guide the reader through the book, donning various costumes according to the theme of each recipe. Children will love the mix of photos, cartoons and colorful graphics. Though many recipes include healthy ingredients, many also contain heavy cream and/or sugar, and white bread is the preferred choice over wheat. A great addition would be healthier versions of these dishes, listing the percentage of daily recommended vitamins, and number of fat and sugar grams in each. But there’s more to the book than simply recipes–a chart lists the approximate recommended serving sizes for children from ages six to 12 in clever, kid-friendly terms. For example, one serving of grain would be half a medium bagel or approximately the size of a hockey puck. Vidal explains the metric and imperial systems of measurement, and gives a lesson given on vitamins and the effect they have on our health. The author also includes a page identifying various kitchen utensils in charming illustrations. For children–and adults–who are flummoxed about proper place settings, there’s a diagram explaining the function and placement of each plate, bowl and utensil. The recipes provide illustrated step-by-step directions, pointing out techniques which may require parental help or supervision. Parents seeking a quick dinner or snack should be forewarned–many of these recipes not only require mixing food colors, but involve some complicated assembly.

A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-7697-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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