As one might be able to see from my first CBR review ever, I am largely interested in cults and cult mentalities and am always interested in hearing about personal experiences with them. Part of this is because of my history being raised Jehovah’s Witness, and part of this is just my interest in people’s experiences with abuse, trauma, and control (again because of personal experience!) So I was very curious to see what this book detailing a childhood and young adulthood spent deep in Scientology would be like, especially since the author is the niece of the leader of Scientology.
In the end, the bones of this book are interesting: it really is a very in-depth look at what being part of the Sea Org, the “inner circle” of power and control in Scientology, is like on a day to day basis. As the book points out, it would be easy to just look at celebrity Scientologists and see a somewhat kooky religion that maybe milks its members for a bit too much money, but the reality of the cult for someone who isn’t a celebrity and who is committed to the cause ranges from intensely controlling to outright terrifying. The cult robbed Jenna Miscavige Hill of a true childhood and brainwashed her into intensely dangerous thinking. The level of detail described is at times fascinating.
Unfortunately, that is overshadowed by mediocre writing and sloppy editing. Words are misused, boring side stories go on for far too long, important details seem to be left out while inane ones are left in, and clumsy phrasing is present throughout. It makes me feel guilty to criticize this since this is a personal story, but there was clearly another writer involved based on the credited author and I wish the more experienced Lisa Pulitzer had exerted some editorial control simply to clean up the book. All and all, this is a worthy read for someone interested in this topic, but I’d recommend Going Clear first.