Top critical review
It's okay but needs more details
January 3, 2015
I was very interested in reading this book after recently reading another Scientology childhood memoir - Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill. However for most of the book I was pushing my way through, waiting for things to happen. The ending was positive and strong and lifted it from 2 stars to 3 though not for the reasons I was expecting. I feel like we do see lots of growth in the main character and it redeemed the book for me despite some of the other short comings.
Like Beyond Belief, this story seems to be about scientology tearing families apart. However unlike Jenna who rarely ever sees her parents, this main character lives with his mom. He feels she doesn't do the things a mom should. Yet his mom provides a great home, with food, clothing, outdoor playtime, education, discipline and friends. It isn't a mainstream life but as a mother myself when I read the story I see a single mom trying to do the best she can with her resources while working to provide for her family and follow her belief system. She is a strict authoritative disciplinarian and I may not agree with her choices but I don't receive any details that convince me she's awful or that life with many parents is so much worse than just two.
There also aren't enough details about the cult and their practices, perhaps because the main character zones out during most of the rituals. It appears that this cult has significant differences from mainstream scientology but I wasn't getting enough info in the story. I did some searching on the internet after reading the book and there isn't much available so more details about the differences in this cult would have been really nice to have. The practices are repeatedly called weird and strange but the lack of details don't make this clear for me. Nothing really out of the ordinary is described in my opinion.
Overall perhaps my dissatisfaction is because I was looking for a memoir describing what it was like to be a member of the cult and what I got was a coming of age story for a young teenage boy. If you are looking for a memoir about scientology cult members, I recommend Beyond Belief. If you are looking for a story about a young boy growing up and realizing that life is about more than just himself, this might do nicely.