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Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review "Beyond Belief" March 2013

Title:  Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
Author:  Jenna Miscavige Hill
Publisher:  William Morrow
Publication Date:  February 5, 2013
Non Fiction - 416 pages

Book Description (from Amazon):
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, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, 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.

I have always been someone who is interested in learning about the world's religions so I was looking forward to the opportunity to getting an insiders perspective of Scientology.  The authors writting style was very dry to me and I kept hoping that it would pick up at some point.  But it did not.  Although it was interesting and somewhat informative, I was left feeling that there was so much more that I wanted to know.  Maybe because the author grew up in the this religion and she and her family were so entrenched in it, she had a difficult time telling us, the outsiders, what it is really like and why.  I kept waiting to be told some of the teachings and beliefs of the founder L. Ron Hubbard but instead I just kept reading about these weird sessions.  This story was incredibly frustrating to me.  


Childrens Fiction -  age range 8 and up  - 144 pages

Sometimes a dog isn't just a dog--sometimes he's the glue the holds a whole family together.

Mr. Mosely is a special dog. Not just because he's so big (he's part Great Dane.) Not just because he's all white (with one black spot under his eye and a heart shaped splotch on his chest.) Not just because he's clumsy, or because of tricks (he only knows one, and it's not very good.) He's special because he seems to know exactly what everyone in Corey's family needs, even when they don't know themselves. This is the story of Mr. Mosely, from his puppyhood to the last time he curls up on the back porch. It's the story of how sometimes a dog isn't "just a dog". Sometimes he's the glue the holds a whole family together.


My 9 year old son is all about dog stories right now so "Just A Dog" was the latest book I to read to him.  As we began to read the book, it was clear that the author was a child.  The writting style consisted of short sentences without a lot of detail.  But, kids are also known for being very honest and not having the filters that so many of us adults do, and this was true here.  The stories about this boy and his dog ranged from funny to sad.  What surprised me was the underlying story of the authors mother and father and their financial and marital issues.  As an adult, I found this uncomfortable but it didnt seem to phase my son.  The one thing I must warn about it that this book does not have a happy ending.  If the death of a pet is something that could upset your child then avoid this book.  I wish I had known this before I began reading.  By the time I came to that part of the story though, my son insisted that I continue so I did.  The loss of the dog was upsetting to my son but the thing that really bothered him was the discourse in the marriage.  My son has talked to me a few times about how the mom and dad fought nod how sad this made the author.  Overall I enjoyed the book and so did my son, but I would not recommend it to a sensitive child or a child under the age of 12.