As a nice Jewish girl raised in an upwardly mobile, status-seeking family, Cassandra Langer never conformed to her mother's gender expectations. When her mother fell prey to a cult leader representing himself as a child behavior expert, Langer was incarcerated for two years as a teenager and barely escaped a lobotomy. The author hopes that those who feel helpless might find some skills to survive and thrive in this book. Her story of surviving 20th-century conversion therapy is set in 1950s Miami and upstate New York. She aims to put secular conversion torture in a historical context to understand the development of homophobic policies and systems active now in red states such as Florida with its "Don't Say Gay" laws.