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on 6 February 2013
I must state up front that I came to this book because I am critical of the scientology organisation.

At least I have a choice of books to read, entirely unlike the way that the author had no choice about belonging to the elite group of the scientology organisation, the "Sea Organisation." Before signing a contract for a duration of one billion years at the age of seven, she had been in the care of the organisation full time since she was five (seeing one or both of her parents for half a day most weekends, no more), in a "Ranch" for "Cadets" - a residentil facility off in the rugged countryside in California.

To me, the most important part of the book is the first part where the author describes what it was like to be treated as an adult and kept under a strict regime (from the age of five). Apart from half a day per week set aside for being with their parents, every one of the hours in their day was defined for the children (with hard physical labour accounting for the mornings). While the hard labour was bad enough, to me the worst part was the thought reform. The kids were policing themselves, denouncing bad actions / attitudes to the adults, with offenders accumulating demerits which had to worked off until normal status could be attained. Failure to comply could cause humiliation in front of the entire group. In this way, no rebellious child stayed rebellious for long. To an outsider this regime seems little different from re-education camps, but what makes the book chilling is that it all happened to a five year old and is told from that viewpoint. The organisation appears to have been shy about its treatment of the children, keeping them away from outside contractors and making sure that they were scrubbed and appeared to be carefree and happy on the rare occasions that their parents saw them.

When she was twelve years old, the author learned that the organisation was punishing her mother for having had an affair. The author was very disappointed in herself. She knew that she should stop loving her mother, but she just couldn't do it - no matter how much she wanted to hate her mother she just could not.

The second part of the book is the description of how the author went from the childrens' camp to the actual "Sea Organisation" (described by spokesman Tommy Davis as "a crew of tough sons of ....") at the age of twelve years old. This did not make her the youngest member. This story is disturbing in its own right, if not told as rarely as the story of "The Ranch" above. The author grew up wholely convinced that she wanted to do everything to help the elite group further the goals of scientology, finally going so far as to refuse - at the age of eighteen - to leave when her parents left (the parents stayed scientologists but left the Sea Organisation).

Happily, the author managed to escape and is today reunited with some of her family (most of her immediate family and her grandfather having left the organisation) and she has a lovely family married to the husband with whom she escaped. The website she started together with two other former child members is still going strong.

While there are many books published in many countries detailing the more or less harrowing details of life inside the scientology organisation, this one is interesting for being right up to date and for giving an intimate view inside the childrens' camps of scientology. It complements the broader but less intimate Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief and the much more scholarly The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion rather than replace them (and vice versa).
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on 11 August 2014
Terrific book bravely written. Any kind of spiritual, or other abuse follows the same patterns, and it is very interesting reading, whether you are trapped by your 'church' elders, or any kind of heirarchical system, where the power and ego gets a hold, this can bless you and give you the courage you need to take an honest look at the organisation you belong to, and assess your situation, and whether it is true. A great read. I was sorry when it came to the end. Thank you Jenna Miscavage Hill. You are an inspiration, and will help many.
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on 30 June 2014
I was engrossed from start to finish. Unbelievable at times yet written with such clarity that you believe every word. Very informative and interesting, a must read if you have an interest of learning what Scientology is all about, and a must read if you have a loved one who is toying with the idea of joining!

I feel much more informed about Scientology and I have a huge admiration for Jenna and the strength she has shown through such a hard life, and for her strength to see the light and get herself and family out of it!
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on 9 February 2013
This has been a very interesting read giving an insight in to a child and young adult who grew up in the Church of Scientology. Jenna life seems a mix of being blessed by being related to the leader of the church of scientology while at the same time cursed by it too. On the one hand she gets to experience life in the highest echelons of the church of scientology while on the other she's made to do hard labour for long hours. Recommended reading for anyone curious about the church of scientology.
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on 10 March 2013
My curiosity and disbelief as to how Scientology worked was answered with this shocking story. I wish I could understand how any sane person could believe that this cult was any kind of good force. A fantastic read!
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on 1 February 2015
I found it a bit repetitive up to half way but realised it had to be from Jenna, to show how the Scientology beliefs /way was drummed into you. In Jenna's case from an early age working on the Ranch as an adult would without her family and missed out on a big part of her childhood. From halfway through the book I enjoyed the book more but was horrified at the same time what happened to Jenna and many others under the rule of this Church and the inhuman way followers were treated. And still are??
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on 19 November 2015
I...what can I say? I just want to scoop Jenna up and hug her so hard. She is one of the bravest people I have had the privilege to read about. I finished this book within a day of starting to read it. I just couldn't put it down. It's like a car crash that you can't help but stare at as you pass by. It seems unreal that this could be happening to children as young as 4 (the age Jenna was when her parents entered Sea Org). How can this be right? How can this be legal? How can it still be happening? If we heard about the things happening to Jenna, happening in a family situation next door, you would rightly call Social Services. So how can this so called 'religion' get away with doing this, every day, to so many? And people like Tom Cruise stand there with a smug grin on their face and say it's all good. No. It is NOT all good. It is a brainwashing cult that is after money and control.
Jenna's story is heartbreaking and it's real. It's not fiction. It's not invented. And it's not original. She is one voice of thousands. She is so incredibly brave to have endured all she did and still come out the other side, fighting and helping others.
Anyone even considering looking into joining Scientology should read this. And the other true accounts of ex Scientologists, to see exactly what it is all about. Jenna's words had me in tears frequently, angry on her behalf and ready to go and rescue her myself if she hadn't got out when she did.
This book is just so sad, but ends so positively.
Thank you for sharing with us Jenna.
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on 26 March 2016
Although a ghost writer is credited, I had the strong impression that this was the authentic voice of the narrator. It is the story of her journey within and then out of Scientology. Its strength for me was the focus on what had happened to her. For reflections on the wider implications of the history and practice of Scientology there is an abundance of other books. For one person's sometimes happy, often deeply unhappy, experience of the "Church" from birth, do read this one.
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on 27 December 2014
Really enjoyed this book. I (like everyone else I suspect) have seen documentaries and read various articles on Scientology over the years. This really was an eye opener and the whole 'set-up' is a lot worse than I imagined. Scientology appears to be more about control, money and reeling in various celebs to network and hob nob with each other. I suspect there are lots of 'auditing' files in a locked safe somewhere to keep any 'wayward' celebs in line and keep the money coming in. I couldn't put this book down.
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on 30 April 2016
With the upcoming book (Ruthless by Miscavige's Father) this book is a very honest insight into the manipulation by the so-called Church of Scientology. With such notable defections from the same family and thousands of others who have been bullied by this Mafia-like cult (it isn't a Church and it isn't a religion), Jenna's contribution is a timely reminder that your life in this cult will be subject to M&Ms -

Money
Manipulation
Miscavige

Don't fall for this "religion" for weak minded individuals who enjoy huge financial benefits as ambassadors such as Tom Cruise.
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