Dead, Insane, Or in Jail: A Cedu Memoir

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Not With The Program, Jul 24, 2015 - 316 pages
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Zack Bonnie was fourteen when his parents sent him to a "Troubled Teen" facility. The author takes readers there, in a thrilling psychological read. Sequestered where bizarre cult-like techniques become the norm, see for yourself exactly what the controversy is about. Should we mold a child's behavior using the tools of brainwashing? With coarse, brutal dialog and authentic source materials, this nonfiction memoir, the first in a series, exposes the secrets and tells it all.

Dead, Insane, or in Jail: A CEDU Memoir is named for the range of options open to the author at 14, if he ran away from the cult his parents inadvertently inducted him into. This is the first time he has told his story. And it's a doozy. Too many people can relate to this account, unfortunately. Although Rocky Mountain Academy has closed its doors, several hundred residential teen-treatment programs, religious reeducation camps, and places that commit spiritual assassination still operate without oversight in the United States.

Imagine (or remember) being a confused teenager. Now imagine that the only solution your parents can devise is sending you away to be "fixed." Zack's touching, true account of being trapped in the "scared straight" industry just might be the book your reluctant teenage reader has been seeking. Barbara J. Danis Literacy Specialist / Coach

Zack Bonnie's work is a gift to those interested in the history and dynamics of coercive residential teen-treatment programs. With gut-level insight, humor and frankness, he describes the inner experience of a precocious 14 year-old who was engulfed and overwhelmed by these bizarre, yet legal, forms of psychological abuse. Marcus Chatfield, Author, Institutionalized Persuasion

It is sad the abuse of teenagers to tough love programs by mis-informed parents and politicians did not end with the revelations concerning the concept originator Synanon. To be stopped eventually, stories like this must keep being told. Paul Morantz, Esq. Author, Escape: My Life Long War Against Cults

It's often hard to describe how traumatic and damaging "troubled teen" programs for young people are. This important perspective from someone who lived it offers a vivid portrait of hell that is sold as therapy. Maia Szalavitz Author, Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids

In the tradition of Darkness At Noon, Zack's history puts the reader into the life that too many "survivors" experienced, and he does this in a finely crafted page-turner. Philip Elberg, Esq.

Zack Bonnie's memoir is a riveting tale of shame, intimidation, coercion, and frank abuse in the name of "treatment." The continued existence of programs like CEDU should be considered a national disgrace. Christopher Bellonci, MD

Zack Bonnie's book sheds light on the larger concerns of many families, then and now. Well-meaning parents are vulnerable to programs like Rocky Mountain Academy. Although it was closed years ago, many more such facilities have been established. These schools and programs take good money from families, and harm their children, all the while masquerading as therapy programs. I join Zack in advocating for regulation and reform so that facilities like RMA can no longer manipulate and harm entire families. Robin C Bernhard, LCSW, MEd, BCN

Thank you, Zack. Your book succeeds on so many levels - as autobiography, as social criticism, as just a good story - I hope you make a million dollars. Jon Bodine, Rocky Mountain Academy Alumnus

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About the author (2015)

Zack Bonnie lives in Central Virginia. As a child in Charlottesville, VA, he was a daredevil who loved soccer. By age fourteen, life had become tumultuous at home and at school; his sudden entrance to a behavior modification facility in Idaho changed the trajectory of his life forever. After "graduating" from Rocky Mountain Academy, Zack returned to high school, and eventually scraped his way into Bard College, on the strength of his writing abilities and Bard's generous entrance standards. The nearby Bard Theater beckoned Zack to a future in the theater. He earned a BA in Drama at Bard, attended the Young Writers Workshop at the University of Virginia, then studied at the Universitat de Barcelona, and earned a Certificate of Completion at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the oldest drama school in the UK. Zack spent most of his 20s in New York, pursuing his dream to become a stage actor. He appeared in film, television (in Spain and the US), and theater, and produced and directed plays in Off-Off-Broadway theaters in New York. To support his life there, he worked at restaurants, security firms, and legal offices, and took side jobs as costumed characters at conventions and children's parties. He then began traveling with his longtime companion, Rebecca Danis, and became an Appalachian Trail through-hiker. He later headed back to his home state of Virginia to begin a new chapter of life. Unfortunately, chance alters even the loosest of plans. A car accident interrupted everything, when a vehicle hit him in a crosswalk and put Zack in the hospital. A court ruled in his favor - despite his dreadlocks - and while Zack recovered from head-to-toe injuries, he drafted a book about his time in Idaho as a young teen. Now all healed, Zack is taking on the world of the Troubled Teen Industry. In this, the first book in a series, Zack takes readers into the inner workings of the facility where he lived, and the impact the school had on his hyperstimulated young mind. incarceration at age fourteen at a school for troubled teens in Northern Idaho, Zack has crafted a fast-moving, plot-driven memoir, with vivid characters and telling details, where even simple English words take on sinister meanings. With the publication of his book, Zack Bonnie is becoming an advocate for change in the Troubled Teen industry, and hopes to help kids and their families find alternatives to facilities like the one he describes in his memoir.

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