Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “We Can't Be Friends: A True Story” as Want to Read:
We Can't Be Friends: A True Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

We Can't Be Friends: A True Story

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  57 reviews
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, n ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about We Can't Be Friends, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about We Can't Be Friends

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  160 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of We Can't Be Friends: A True Story
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, mental-health
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 re
I don't think it's correct to rate someone's memoir, so I'm going to refrain from doing that, but I will write a review.

Cyndy Etler's We Can't Be Friends: A True Story is a raw memoir of the author about her coming to high school after being locked up at Straight Inc. for sixteen months, enduring psychological abuse, spitting from other youths, and not being able to have contact with anything from the outside.

I'm no one to judge, but I'm very disgusted about Cyndy's mom's behavior. How could she
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Horrifically truthful, this book tells the true story of Cyndy Etler after her experience in a Rehab Center called Straight Inc.. After Cyndy’s release her life remains turbulent and the amount of times Cyndy mentioned she wished to return to the horror that was Straight left me sick inside.

The effect this book had on me was mostly psychological. I kept wanting to reach out to this girl that kept rushing into bad situation after bad situation and to just be there for her. To be one of the few pe
Barbara Senteney
We Can’t Be Friends

Straight Inc, is pissing me off. To tell someone they are a drug addict with no hope because they smoked 2 joints and drank a beer, to belittle a child on a daily basis, and encourage children to spit in each other's faces so they will confess to being a druggie, it not just brainwashing. It’s replacing the bullies on the playground with bullies a hundred fold. I feel sorry for you Cyndy, you have been brainwashed.
This story touched my soul, I ached for this poor girl just tr
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"We Can't Be Friends" is the story of Cyndy, who ends up in Straight Inc. as a young teenager. Straight Inc. is billed as being a way to rehab kids so that they never do drugs or drink again but the program has a dark side. The program relies on some pretty harsh tactics and the reader is left questioning what cost Cyndy's sobriety (if you can really call what she was doing before an issue) came at.

I felt so much for Cyndy throughout this book. Because of some of the sort of brainwashing she goe
Drawing on her own experiences after graduating from a tough love rehab program, author Cyndy Etler describes what life was like for her as she tried to fit back into the high school social whirl. Because she had been programmed to believe that she was an addict, she had to avoid alcohol and drugs, essential ingredients at most teen parties these days. At certain moments, it's clear that she would have preferred to return to rehab with its clear rules and expectations, and readers' hearts will b ...more
Jessica White
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Not gonna lie, I wasn't thrilled when I started reading this.
Now, that may just be because this is the companion book to The Dead Inside, which I actually have not read yet.

So Cyndy Etler just spent 16 months in Straight Inc., a tough love rehab center. (I don't know much about the center because it's mostly addressed in the first book)
From what I gathered, Straight is a no bullshit center that mentally destroys the patients. They tear them down, calling them druggie. Including Cyndy who smoked
Reviews May Vary
May 21, 2018 marked it as dnf-to-finish-later
Shelves: roctbf18
I like this story, so far. I mean. As much as you can like the story of a teenager who suffered through emotional abuse for behaviors that are developmentally appropriate. But I think I'd like it better as an audio-book, which maybe isn't a thing yet?

Note to self: I'm about half way through
Dani St-Onge (Literary Lion)

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cyndy Etler got out of Straight Inc. a cult-like program masquerading a rehab. Cyndy thinks she is cured, but her troubles aren’t over. She enters her old school friendless and alone, and her new Straight ideologies aren’t helping her to fit in.

Etler tells a powerful story - hers. She tells it in a way where I often forgot I was reading real events. Her writing is
Mandy Peterson
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
What do you do after you've been in a brainwashing program and you're released into the world again as a fifteen year old? "We Can't Be Friends" by Cyndy Etler addresses her experiences after "The Dead Inside" as she reintegrates with the general populace with Straight, Inc. still in her head.
I really appreciated that we heard more of this story. Of course, at the end of "The Dead Inside", you're left thinking, "Thank goodness she got out! It must have been all stars and rainbows." This book cl
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a brave, raw and fascinating memoir. This is the kind of book that will be passed around from teen girl to teen girl and checked out of every school library. In every middle school and high school in the nineties, the same books were always checked out of the library or passed around from friend to friend -- "scandalous" ones like the Sweet Valley High book where Jessica Wakefield runs away from home with her motorcycle riding boyfriend, or any young adult Judy Blume novel, and, of cours ...more
Michelle Kidwell
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

We Can't Be Friends

A True Story

by Cyndy Etler


Sourcebooks Fire

Biographies & Memoirs , Teens & YA

Pub Date 03 Oct 2017

I am voluntarily reviewing a copy of We Can't Be Friends through Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley:

We Can't Be Friends is the follow up to Cyndy Etler's Memoir The Dead Inside.

We Can't Be Friends is the story of Cyndy Etler's adjustment from her time in Straight Inc, to home.

She talks about struggling with getting back into High-School life and the lack of support she
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brave book. I received a free copy of this book, and did not know what to expect. It is a brutal and horrific memoir, and there are no doubt many trigger warnings attached to it. I have read through some of the reviews, and many talk about the horrific cult-like 'rehab' program. The takeaway for me was victim-blaming. This happens to Cyndy throughout - by her mother, her 'friends', her mentors, strangers. She is labelled (incorrectly), forced into rehab because her mother (who seems mentally i ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this a difficult read as it was written from a teenage mindset, and even writing as an adult the writing was very young. I had expected a fascinating read which would allow me a great insight into the mind of a troubled teenage and the trials and tribulations of her life. Sadly the writing let the memoir down. It;s difficult to really review a book which is based on someone's actual life, as it feels harsh to form judgement. However nothing about this really gripped me, and I think it wo ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
I picked this book up not knowing anything really about the content or author. I do think it's incredibly important to raise awareness about the abusive 'teen help' facilities like Straight Inc, and I'm impressed that the author has decided to be so open about her life and her experiences there. However, something about the voice throughout the book just wasn't a style I liked and some bits felt a little repetitive. Again, the story itself is important, but the style just wasn't for me. ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from Netgalley. I honestly feel like this book took a lot of bravery to write. Cyndy is so amazing for sharing her story with us readers. I can't even imagine how tough it was for her to go through everything she did. She was so honest about everything, her 'addiction', her rapes, etc. This book was so interesting to me, I wanted to keep reading to make sure teen Cyndy turned out okay. I'm so glad to know that she's fine and that she's writing these great books for us to rea ...more
Aubrey Marie
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was given this Arc by Netgalkey in exchange for an honest review. I went into this not really knowing what to expect. At first, the main character reminded me of those bad cult tv shows, but I keep reading and realized that everything she went through was crazy and she is so strong to get through it. She was dealt a bad hand and she did everything possible to make the best of life and she had to learn so much. Even if you haven't gone through what she did (hopefully you havent) her feelings ab ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
is this real life? This book is labeled a memoir, but it reads like fiction, because it blows my mind that these things happened to someone at a treatment program. I unfortunately did not get to read the first memoir documenting Cyndy's experience at the treatment center, but with the snippets in the book about that experience, I am blown away.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And... she does it again!

This book is just as good, if not better, than the author's first memoir, Dead Inside, which I highly recommend. This is the continuation of that first book, and continues the tales of her life. Both of these are true to life memoirs of the author's life, before and after being placed in a drug-treatment facility/program. This book more closely follows her life following her release from the program and her adjustment to "real life" after Straight. It's a grippingly hone
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone. Who Wants to Celebrate Survivors of Sexual Assault
Recommended to Molly by: Axpreaderland
Not sure why anyone put this book in the category of Romance Novels.
The person Cyndy really falls in love with is herself.

An absolutely horrid Recovery story that painfully depicts many of the sad realities of the Tough Love centers so popular in the 90s.

I was honored to receive an advance read copy of this book.

The mother who is so shocked when baby sister discloses abuse is an unfortunately well depicted idiot mom.
After big sis having brief acting out, and running away from contact, the as
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Although this was a good book, for me it was a hard book to read. Not due to the writing, but just all that this young lady had to go through. All of the people that should have helped her, turned their back on her. The damage that was done to Cindy in my opinion was appalling. But, she perservered. She is living a life SHE wants to lead. This is a good book for all. Many topics are touched, bullying, self-esteem, etc. Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and last but not least the author for allo ...more
Care Kelley
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot stress enough how important this book, and its prequel are. I couldn't put either of them down and came out of them wiser and kinder. A must read for anyone in the education field, or anyone, really.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We can’t be friends by Cyndy Etler

How would you feel as a teenager if your parents thought you were doing illegal and inappropriate activities? In the book We can’t be friends the parent has psychological issues that she projects on her teenager. It’s impossible to imagine what this mother would do to her teenager. The book transports you into a world filled with lows as well as extreme excitement experienced by this teenager. This book describes the day to day life of a brainwashed teenager.

Zach Koenig
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
While reading "We Can't Be Friends", I felt like I was missing a key piece of information for most of the experience. While author Cyndy Etler describes her experience of re-integrating back into "normal life" (high school years) after time spent emotionally abused at the Straight Inc. drug rehabilitation center, she only gives about 10-15 pages of background on that subject. I was a bit mystified as to why those events would be discussed so much over the course of the book and yet receive so li ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I believe We Can’t Be Friends is a very inspiring book for young people like me. It tells a very great story that emphasizes the importance of courage in someone’s life. Cyndy Etler was sent to Straight Inc, a rehab facility, for an addiction her parents believed she had. At the facility, she was psychologically abused, and when she got out, she believed everything she liked was an addiction. I enjoyed how Cyndy went into great depth to describe her experience at Straight because it allowed me t ...more
Janet Graham
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Moving Story of Dealing With Abuse As A Teenager
This is a powerful story that is not an easy read. This is the true story of an abused teenager coming to grips with life. This story should make you re-live some of the more painful parts of your high school years. I hadn’t read the author’s first book about her years in a tough re-hab program. However, this book did well as a stand-alone read. I don’t think I will read that first book, as this one was tough enough. Surprisingly, I read several bo
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
We Can't Be Friends is the follow up to the author's memoir about her time in the Straight, Inc. program. Home and back in high school, Cyndy has to constantly be on her guard, trying to keep true to the lessons she learned at Straight. The problem is, the cult-like atmosphere of the aforementioned program has indoctrinated Cyndy to the point that she would rather return or die.

Cyndy was a teen in trouble, but not in the ways that Straight and her mother thought. The only thing that the program
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Didn't find out until after I read this that this memoir is actually a sequel, which in retrospect, I wish I had known/ read the other book first. The story is about the life of a teenager who had been neglected and abused as a child and then sent to a boot camp live in "rehab" facility for troubled teens, and how she dealt with the that trauma and tried to fit back into the regular world and make it pretty much on her own until she was old enough for college. The writing in the book, particular ...more
Sheila Arroyo
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

When I first started this book I thought it was going to be like some books that I have read through before but it was not. I get it that sometimes things do not go as we would like but I felt that there were a lot of issues that Cyndy kept to herself even though she knew they were wrong she did not get help with the issue with her stepfather. She let people tell her what to do even when she wa
Coquille Fleur
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
While not as gripping as her first book, I still read this book in a day or two and loved it. In this story, Cyndy is out of her horrifying prison posing as a drug rehab and so brainwashed that it takes her years to even begin living a normal life. I could totally relate to her as she navigated the rest of high school (I literally graduated the same year she did) scared to death of everything and everyone that might lead her back to the path of ending up in prison or dead. I love that she went o ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dead, Insane, or in Jail: A CEDU Memoir
  • Dead, Insane, or in Jail: Overwritten
  • It Was Me All Along
  • Here and Gone
  • We All Looked Up
  • What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics
  • The Memory of Light
  • King Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • The Winter's Tale
  • The Colour of Milk
  • The Twin
  • Divergent Official Illustrated Movie Companion
  • From an Idea to Disney: How Branding Made Disney a Household Name
  • How It Feels to Fly
  • A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School
  • You Let Me In
  • The Visitors
See similar books…
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, convi

Related Articles

  Speaking with Adam Grant feels like having your brain sandblasted, in a pleasant sort of way. As an author, professor, and psychologist,...
70 likes · 1 comments