Thursday, July 31, 2014

Audiobook Review: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life in Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

From Goodreads:
Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised to obey. As the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial and powerful organization. But at twenty-one, Jenna made a daring break, risking everything she had ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, and her dramatic escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decades, has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide.
Well done.  I don't have much to say either positively or negatively about the quality of the writing.  I think the real appeal of the book lies in Hill's story, and it's told well, but without anything extra in terms of style or device.

Entertainment Value
Absolutely fascinating.  After reading and enjoying Going Clear last year, I was really interested in the subject of Scientology and excited to see this memoir by someone who actually grew up inside the cult.  Jenna Miscavige Hill was not only a member of Scientology, but closely related to high-level Scientology leaders, including her uncle, David Miscavige.

Hill's story is heartbreaking.  She describes being separated from her parents from a very young age, being raised in a communal group with other children, and being forced to perform physically demanding labor and harsh punishments.  We follow her as she becomes a teenager and young adult and begins to question some of the rules and restrictions placed on members of the Sea Org, the elite group of church members who devote their lives to the practice of Scientology.  It's a story that is difficult to hear and chilling at times, when you realize that these abuses are happening in the country we live in at this moment in time.

Well done.  As with the writing, I have no strong feelings either way.  The author doesn't narrate the book and that always feels a little bit weird to me when listening to a memoir, but I still enjoyed the experience.

I highly recommend it to fans of memoir, those interested in contemporary cults, or who are interested in Scientology specifically.

1 comment:

  1. Wasn't this book fascinating? I couldn't believe the psychological torture she was put through. Beyond brainwashing. It is interesting to be hearing some insight from Leah Remini as well.