Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, 2014
Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.
In this tell-all memoir, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider's profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood's brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
©2013 Jenna Miscavige Hill (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
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.
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.
Disturbing, difficult, real.
Jenna and her brother
No, it was too hard to do so.
Well-written and insightful. Shows that free thought can win and it is a testament to how intelligent Jenna is.
I know this is critical. I admit that. But I was left infuriated and wondering what her parents were thinking. They abandoned their children. They didn't seem interested in raising them. I understand they thought, on one hand, it was "for the greater good," but these were their children. I know this probably reveals a great deal about me (and my thoughts on my own childhood), but wow. Just wow. I had to stop listening several times out of flat-out rage.
What is David Miscavige (and his anti-child antics) thinking? As this story shows, a basic "truth" about religion is having and raising children in the church is easier to sustain membership than recruitment and fear. Strange, strange, strange "religion."
I could not stop listening and ended up listening to other bioks about those who have "escaped".
Although it is evident that the author is not a professional writer....this book is filled with a lot of great information and does leave you wanting to hear/read more!
Absolutely recommended. It's a gripping and insightful story that gives a believable look inside Scientology and the ability of cults to convince people that really strange and appalling things are normal. If you were ever curious about what happens on the inside, this will definitely scratch that itch.
Reads just a little like a high school report, but this doesn't take away from the experience and maybe even adds a little contextual texture to it. However I will say that by the end I never wanted to hear the word "as" again.
It's like living the story. Not only is the recording spot-on, but the narrator speaks clearly and conveys all the correct emotions at the right times.
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.
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