Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Wow, what an experience!

Author Jenna Miscavige Hill literally grew up in the Church of Scientology. Her parents were public members at first, and then became active members of the church’s Sea Org. Jenna’s uncle was and is the highest-ranking official in Scientology–the effective leader of the group. Beginning with her childhood, Jenna shares her memories and experiences of being raised by the church. How she (and many other children, as well) was separated from her parents at a very young age; how they participated in strenuous physical labor for the majority of the day and were then expected to study the principles of Scientology in the evening; how she slowly became disillusioned and fought to escape.

So often while listening to the events described, I found my jaw dropping open or my head shaking in disbelief. I even had a fair number of instances when I rewound the narration to listen again, certain I hadn’t just heard what I had, in fact, heard. I have long been interested in and fascinated by cults. How do people find themselves wrapped up in something that, to outsiders, seems so obviously odd, dangerous, or wrong? Jenna’s story definitely shed light on that for me. When you grow up with something and are surrounded by others with only the same experience, how do you not belive it?

I thought this book was exceedingly interesting, relevant to our times, and very well told.

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