Hey reader friends, I thought I would try writing this book review of Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer in a totally different way than I normally write reviews because I want to shake things up. Also, because I think it’s fun to try new and different ways of reviewing, plus this book is awesome and deserves some attention here on the blog. I thought I would do a question and answer format and see how that works out.
Why Did I Want To Read This Book:
After LOVING the audiobook of Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman and not taking any scary Scientology heat over that review (I was nervous, ha, they are litigious after all),I found my interest in what I see as a fringe religious group rather peaked. And so, when an email showed up with this audiobook for review, I immediately said yes – and you guys, usually I just delete those emails. Turns out, it was a great life choice and I found Jenna’s story to be especially harrowing, sort of like the subtitle of the book.
What is this book about:
If you aren’t totally a weirdo and obsessed with Scientology, the name Miscavige probably means nothing to you. So I will illuminate. David Miscavige is Scientology’s leader, you could almost say he’s the pope of Scientology. Anyways, Jenna Miscavige Hill is his niece. She narrates what it was like to grow up in a family that’s totally dedicated to the religion. She talks about how she went from a house to an apartment to living on this ranch that was entirely run by children. She talks about the shady learning techniques they use. In short, her story is fricken terrifying. And really, Beyond Belief is about what it’s like to grow up within this religion, being a member of the Sea Org and how she left — it basically took the love of a good man and the wish to start a family. I won’t knock it, family and love are mighty powerful forces.
What did I learn:
Basically, I never want to join Scientology. Not that it was ever on the table or anything. Still. Here’s the thing, Jenna gets special treatment because she’s the bossman’s niece, yet her life still sucks. Can you imagine what this book would be like if she wasn’t his niece? Oh my goodness. Like, they are so mean to her. They won’t let her date people who aren’t quite at her level in the hierarchy. She can’t have kids unless it’s approved. When her family members leave she has to disconnect from them. It’s scary you guys. And even scarier is that it is real life. I learned so much more about study tech which are fancy words for asinine teaching techniques, Jenna really goes into depth about that.
Was it well-written:
I think that Beyond Belief is extremely well done. Obviously, Jenna Miscavige did not write the whole thing – you can see on the cover that Lisa Pulitzer is listed as co-author. I think that Pulitzer did a great job of taking Miscavige’s story and making it compelling. I mean, it would have been compelling regardless — but you can’t dismiss how helpful an experienced author can be when it comes to getting your life story down. I found myself totally absorbed by this book.
How is the narration:
As mentioned way above, I listened to the audiobook version of Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape. I’m actually glad I listened to the audio, produced by Harper Audio. I actually wish Jenna had narrated as that would make the book more hard hitting. However, I think that Sandy Rustin did a competent job. Her voice sounds sympathetic – in that as I was listening, I found myself sympathizing with Jenna. The audiobook is 12 hours long unabridged and got me through a very, very long round trip. I found myself eager to listen, rather than eager for it to be over so I could listen to some music.
Sum it up with a GIF:
Basically my face as Jenna writes about what life was like being raised in Scientology.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by Harper Audio.
Other reviews of Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill:
Blah, my googling sucks because I can’t find any that are from book blogs — if you review this, drop your link and I’ll add it up here!