As a person with dyslexia, audio books give me the opportunity to "read" wonderful books that I would otherwise miss. Thank you for this fabulous service.
I've heard people talk about Scientology. I remember seeing ads on television for "Dianetics by L Ron Hubbard." I never knew quite what it was, but they sure did advertise a lot. (As I recall the book moved toward the screen bursting from flames.)
Based on the name and the fact that L Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. I assumed that the people involved would be techie types, smart and educated, into cutting edge technology. Wow! Was I wrong!
The author tells her story, and what a story it is. She is a third-generation Scientologist. I had no idea it had been around that long. She basically grew up alone since she was separated from her parents at an early age. Making this even more interesting is the fact that her parents were high-ranking people in the organization, and her uncle became the head of it when LRH died. With those credentials, you would think she would have lived the good life. No so.
Describing day-to-day operations, I got the impression of people being almost automatons. They were constantly being watched by each other. Every imperfection and indiscretion was reported. It also made me curious so I Googled "Scientology uniforms" so see what they wore. This just enhanced the vision of brainwashed uniformed minions like those in a bad science fiction movie.
While the actual people who do the work are treated poorly, the celebrity members are treated very well. My daughter commented that she read some celebrities stay because the organization has a lot of personal info on them that was gathered during their auditing sessions.
I think the thing that struck me the most was the lack of education. The current head, David Miscavige, dropped out of school at age 16. The author's parents were also drop-outs. Most startling was at one point, the author had an opportunity to leave, and the reason she stayed was because she knew that she would not be able to fit into public school with her lack of education. Her only knowledge was the teachings of LRH.
This was a very interesting inside look at a non-mainstream religion that I knew almost nothing about.
This book was heart wrenching and fantastic. It was amazing to see what life the author grew up in, and amazing how she was able to get herself out.
It isn't often that you get the perfect meeting of a great performance and a gripping story: this is one of those times. The title "Beyond Belief" is apt; it is hard to understand how seemingly mild-mannered people (Scientologists) can allow their children to be treated so poorly. Jenna Miscavige Hill describes her extremely unusual childhood in Scientology and her gradual desire to leave the only life that she ever knew. Because she is the niece of the current leader of Scientology, there is even more credibility to her story. Before this book, I thought of Scientologists as being a bit odd, but basically harmless. This author's story underlines the need for more careful scrutiny of this organization, particular in the way that they utilize small children for forced labor and break apart families. Suddenly they don't seem harmless any more. Kudos to the author for what must have been a painful journey in writing this memoir.
The narration deserves special recognition...it is one of the most superb readings I have encountered on Audible. The book is a journey from the author's experience as a young girl to a grown woman, and the narrator is able to make the transition easy and smooth and believable without being over the top. I don't often buy the book after purchasing the Audible version, but I bought the book in this case because the story is so riveting. As I read the book, I hear the narrator's voice in my head, which is not a bad thing! It makes the story that much more real.
If you enjoy true life stories, you cannot go wrong with Beyond Belief.
Not sure I could listen to this book again. It was a great book but realizing how Jenna was robbed of a childhood along with the other children is heartbreaking. I didn't know much about Scientology before and wow...I know more than I want to now. No wonder Katie Holmes took off like she did!
This was a great book and a must read.
The narration was great.
Beyond Belief would be a good title.
The story was captivating because it was all true and literally beyond belief. What happens in Scientology is unimaginable and really needs to be stopped. It is hard to believe that this can occur in our society today.
Learning what kind of life the children at the ranch had to live. The responsibilities and lack of contact the kids had with their parents makes you wonder what was going on in the parents heads!
A lightness in her voice that helps keep the book from being very depressing and dark.
It made me outraged that this continues to go on and made me feel like doing something about it. I actually went to one of the survivor websites and donated to their cause.
The information in this book needs to be spread far and wide so fewer people get caught in the Scientology web of lies.
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
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.
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.
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.