Yes. The emotional roller coaster was amazing. I left the book feeling close to the writer and the other people in the Sea Org.
All of them
I was looking forward to reading this story, but I was disappointed from start to finish. First, I felt the narrator, Sandy Rustin, was a poor choice. Throughout, she sounded like she was narrating Alice in Wonderland or some other children's story. Her voice sounds quite young (which isn't in itself bad), but I felt distracted by her cadence and tone, and even annoyed at times by her sing-song voice. I think the performance detracted from my ability to connect with the main character.
The story itself was somewhat interesting, but the author often went on and on about inconsequential details. I often felt I was listening to someone's ramblings in their personal journal and the story development was really lacking. I understand that describing the details of her harrowing childhood is important to understanding her life, but there was very little self reflection or insight to balance the mundane details. The book could have used a better editor to help move the story along.
Based on the book description, I was hoping to learn about what it was like growing up in Scientology, but Jenna's story actually is quite atypical, being that she was part of the elite Sea Org, and was put through some experimental programs as a young child. While there are some details about the way the church is organized and operates, her story is very unique. This isn't bad, just not what I was expecting.
If Scientology comes calling, run the other way
This is a revealing insight into the "Sea Org", the shock-troops/Gestapo of the so-called Church of Scientology. Jenna Miscavige, the niece of current potentate David Miscavige (successor to L. Ron Hubbard), recounts her mostly parentless upbringing in the Sea Org, including signing up for a billion-year term of service at age 8. It's a harrowing tale of forced servitude, child abuse, lack of schooling, mind-control and coercion, culminating in her escape from the cult in her early 20's. I learned much I didn't know from this book.
This book is a childlike, innocent retelling of what happened to JMH as a child growing up within the confines of Scientology. The treatment of her was harsh, and simply wrong. I cannot conceive of how parents and adults in general could allow it. She has my utmost sympathy, and I'm happy for her that she now has a better life.
However, in the interests of giving an honest book review, I cannot rate this book highly. I understand that she was unable to gain much of an education, and one cannot blame her for that. But as a reader, I would've gained far more from the book if instead of merely recounting separate episodes and isolated events, there had been some analysis of these events, with hindsight, and insight into the basic tenets of Scientology. What was or is her view of these? How does she interpret the events of her life as a reflection of these beliefs?
Why, in her opinion, were things as they were? How do her parents feel now, about having subjected her to this?
I understand that she was brainwashed, but is that the only reason she did not
leave sooner when she had both the opportunity and her parents' support? Since her life to that point had been so bad, surely the painful reality of the past years would have overcome the brainwashing? I don't know.
I find the sequence of events, unsupported by any insightful discussion, too simplistic, childish and incohesive. After all, the book is entitled "Beyond Belief". What is the belief-structure of Scientology, and what caused these events to stretch the beliefs beyond their limits? A fuller account would have made a far better book, in my opinion. Or is the "Belief" being referred to as the reader's unwillingness or incapacity to understand?
I'm sorry, but for the above reasons I regret having wasted a credit on this book. I think that being "nice" needs to take a back seat when evaluating a book purely on its merits.
Say something about yourself!
I'm fascinated about religions. I have tried to believe in lots of things in my time and have tried to stay really open minded towards beliefs. Scientology is one of those religions that's kind of hard to find any objective information about. It's always either propaganda for the church or activism against it. This book kind of answers me why that's the case. It seems like Scientology isn't a religion at all, it's an brain washing experiment and a money making scam. It filled me with horror listening to Jenna's story, especially as a father, but at the same time it was very interesting.
I guess the narrator is trying to act a little while reading. In the beginning for instance she is reading somewhat girly, as the author is a little girl (at the time), and that felt odd, but as the book went on, it grew on me and I started liking it. And she isn't a bad actor, actually this was probably just the way a book like this should be read.
Yes, I found this book to be very interesting. The bizarreness that is Scientology can almost be read as a non fiction drama. Which you may assume it was if you had never heard of Scientology. Narration was great and the book kind of played out like a girls diary. The things she saw and her feelings towards those things. Some may think it is a way to poorly write a novel, but I found it to be the most effective way.
Jenna. She got her self into all the trouble that in turn showed us what a dysfunctional group this is.
The whole thing. From the Ranch to the Sea ORG. Fascinating read.
Yes. It was fascinating, if you have never read anything about Scientology this is a great book to start on. I'm always interested in things I don't either know about or do not understand. This exposes a lot of those questions.
Audible rawks! My taste is beyond eclectic and Audible always has plenty to choose from, no matter what mood I'm in!
... and the rest will follow: CoS true believers must have some seriously masochistic tendencies to put up with a lot of what-all seems to go on in their chosen ideology. That said, Ms. Miscavige-Hill comes across as honest in her tale. Her delayed skepticism seems realistically portrayed and her acting out is not pretty, but necessary in order for her to become a self-actualized adult after allowing herself to accept the bizarre life of a religious acolyte for far too long.
The reading is forthright and clear and the writing picks up and flows easily after the first chapter or so. A very good listen!
This is a very articulate recollection of ty the abuses Scientology inflicts on the people they dupe and control. The performance makes it feel like the author herself is telling the story.
I had no idea what Scientology was about so reading this book was very helpful and disturbing. Great read for those who who would like an insiders account of that it is all about.
Gives an insiders view of the most twisted and perverted cult in the world today. They are sinister and pure evil. They need to be crushed and destroyed and this shows exactly why.