Cannonball Read V: Book #28/52
Before reading this book, I thought for some reason that Jenna Miscavige Hill was Scientology leader David Miscavige's daughter. She's actually his niece, but still very much part of a high profile Scientology family. She was born into the religion in 1984 (make her only a year older than myself) before her uncle took over. Both of her parents were devout followers of L. Ron Hubbard's odd religion and were a part of the Sea Org, which is basically Scientology slave labor that they sign billion year contracts for (no, that is not an exaggeration).
Jenna was devout herself growing up, despite her less than ideal childhood. Her parents pretty much left on her on a Scientology ranch and she only got to see them a few times a year. The ranch provided a place to stay and food to a handful of kids and they also got some schooling, although most of it was church curriculum. That was probably the most interesting part of the book. As a child, I cannot imagine going through all of the "tests" they had to take. Basically everything is done or repeated over and over and over again until is ingrained into these kid's heads. The repetitiveness is enough to drive most people mad. Then they had the constant auditing sessions where an e-meter was used to clear their thoughts and force them to confess anything they might be witholding. If that last sentence didn't make any sense to you, you'll catch on to the Scientology lingo pretty quickly while reading the book.
The saddest part was Jenna's reluctance to leave the church even after her parents got out. It was all she had ever known. The brainwashing they do to these kids is absolutely heartbreaking. They tear apart families so that the children are literally more dependent and loyal to the church than to their own family.
This book is engaging and very well written, however, I did read a pretty thorough history of Scientology before this book (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief) and I think it did help with understanding a lot that was going on in the background. This book is pretty exclusively just Jenna's story and doesn't really delve into the inner workings or history of Scientology.