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Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  11,373 ratings  ·  1,542 reviews
Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised to obey. As the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial and powerful organization. But at twenty-one, Jenna made a daring break, risking everything she had ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, and ...more
Audio, Unabridged
Published February 5th 2013 by HarperAudio (first published 2013)
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Renee About a young woman who was raised in Scientology, 3rd generation, and her experiences that lead her to leave. Quite informative.
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I don't normally read memoirs of celebrities or other people who were made known by public media. I feel that a person’s memoir shouldn’t be read as an entertainment, but as something that one could learn a few life lessons from. But, I need to read the newest Scientology Book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief for a group discussion, and figured that this newly published memoir written in a first person account by a previous Scientologist would be a great complement t ...more
This book was so boring! I admire the courage this young woman mustered up to not only leave the church, but also to publicly tell her story, considering all the threats and coercion sanctioned by her uncle. And if everything she says is true, she did a wonderful thing by exposing the human rights violations and child abuse hidden within the upper ranks of the church. But the prose style is so flat and straightforward, I don't know how or why I stayed with this book -- I guess I just really, rea ...more
Jenna was raised to obey.

She is the niece of the leader (David Miscavige) of The Church of Scientology. While still a toddler, Jenna’s parents became members of The Sea Organization, the church’s, elite, inner clergy. Such membership demanded all of their time and attention, leaving Jenna and her brother to be raised by other caretaker members of the Church, until their formal education at “the Ranch” began at the age of seven.

The clocks do not strike thirteen in Jenna’s world and this is not
In a word, horrifying.

This was a rare nonfiction read for me, brought to my attention as an editor's pick. It pains me to tick the "nonfiction" box on my Goodreads shelf, and so acknowledge that this really happened to someone -- in fact, to a lot of someones. And it continues to happen to more of them, and most of them don't get out.

The basics: This is a memoir by Jenna Miscavige Hill, about her upbringing in the Church of Scientology and her escape from it. You may recognize the nam
I've been interested in the high weirdness behind Scientology since first seeing the Dianetics advertisements in the '80s (Volcanoes! Mountain climbing!) and reading a copy from a yard sale (it reads like the mid-century pop-psych that it is). My curiosity was further piqued when I came across Operation Clambake in the late 90s ( and biographies of L. Ron Hubbard, such as Jon Atack's A Piece of Blue Sky and Russell Miller's Bare-faced Messiah. I became fascinated how Hubbard served the ...more
Catherine Ryan Howard
(4.5 stars)

Having just finished Lawrence Wright's GOING CLEAR, I found BEYOND BELIEF to be as equally riveting as it was disturbing. The niece of Scientology head honcho (and Tom Cruise BFF) David Miscavige, Jenna Hill grew up in the Church which, as you'll learn in this book, is like a different planet compared to what "public Scientologists" (and celebrities are included in that) experience as The Church of Scientology.

The thing with BEYOND BELIEF is that it's Jenna's own words, own experienc

I know you're wondering why I'm shouting at you. I thought it'd be a nice way to start the review after reading this:
"Are you hungry?" Diane asked.
"No," I replied.
"Good," Diane said as she marked my answer on her worksheet. "Are you tired?" she asked next.
"No," I replied.
"Good." She marked this on her worksheet as well. These were the questions that started off every auditing session. "Is there any reason not to start this session?" she asked.
"We're doing a session?" I asked,
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

Rating not based on the actual writing per se (it is clear from the often times non-focused and badly edited narrative that Jenna Miscavige Hill is not a professional writer), but on her story about growing up in the wacked-out cult religion of Scientology as the niece of current leader Dave Miscavige from age two until she finally escaped left around age 21.

Kudos to her for speaking up and speaking out. I wish her and her family well in her new life among the "Wog
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I still haven't read Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief although I have seen the documentary based on it. Many of the names that come up in this memoir of growing up inside Scientology are the same, because the author is the niece of the current leader of the church. It should be noted that her grandparents, parents, husband, and siblings have all also left the church.

People who grow up in fundamentalist sects or cults are endlessly fascinating to me, perhaps because I
Diane Yannick
Really tough for me to rate this book. Jenna Hill does an amazing job of describing her life as a kid born into the upper echelon of Scientology. I was amazed at some of the crap that occurred in the name of religion. Young children were separated and alienated from their parents. Children from age 5-12 were forced to write down their transgressions so that they could be checked out with an electropsychometer , a machine used to indicate "whether or not a person has been relieved from spiritual ...more
This book is great. Jenna tells her story as only she can. I was angry and in tears for the way these kids were treated. Their childhood was basically taken from them. How can our government not investigate this so called church for neglect and abuse that I'm sure are still going on today.
I am a bit ashamed to admit that I read this book, but I wanted to learn more about the insides of scientology and needed a "lighthearted" summer book.
First of all, let me say that I simply could not get past Hill's atrocious writing. Her ideas moved rapidly from one place to another and left me confused. I often had to read passages aloud to my husband because I simply did not understand them or simply could not believe an editor would approve it being published! Towards the end of the book I c
This is far from the first, but unfortunately not the last, indictment against the "Church" of Scientology. How can this still be happening? Is there not some fair labor or child labor/abuse statute violated here? How can this be?

This book comes from a very important person and place. This is the niece of David Miscavige who took the reins of Scientology upon the death of its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The writer, Lisa Pulitzer, has given Jenna a genuine voice. In simple prose you discover Scientolo
It really is wild to think how brainwashing happens. And it is so frustrating to watch the product of it. The people who are critical of this book and of Jenna saying things like she could have left far earlier had she wanted to probably don't understand the power of brainwashing. In Jenna's case, it was what she was born into and the only way of life she knew. So while it is easy for us on the outside to look in and be frustrated that she didn't do something sooner, it is also pretty unfair of ...more
This is the third book on the Church of Scientology that I've read this year. Unlike the previous books, Going Clear and Church of Fear, Beyond Belief is an insider's account of life growing up in the church built by L. Ron Hubbard.

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece, David Miscavige, the current head of the Church of Scientology. You would think that this would offer her a position of privilege in the organization. Instead, Miscavige-Hill begins her narrative at the point where her parents made t
Despite some inconsistencies in the editing of this book (a recollection from Jenna's childhood is dated as the spring of 1999, instead of 1989, etc.) I could not put it down. It is completely unsettling to me that Scientology is clearly and undeniably brainwashing people on a regular basis.. I feel so bad for the people who buy in - and that is exactly what they do, BUY in, with either large amounts of money or sweat equity - to these fictional concepts and spend their lives defending it with t ...more
Pretty boring as it turns out- I'm just so easily duped into thinking that because something's secretive it must also be interesting. Really it's just your typical brainwashing b.s., but between it being free and my being sick in bed, I guess it wasn't a total waste of a few hours.
aPriL eVoLvEs
l. Ron Hubbard said he was a full member of the Blackfoot Indian tribe of Montana. He said he was a nuclear physicist. He said he was severely disabled by his military service. All of this is untrue. There are statements from witnesses, including his own son, that he was an extreme drug user, particularly of pills which cause delusions. He was a popular science fiction author, with 19 of his books having been on the New York Times Bestseller list. I read many of his books as a teenager. I though ...more
She could have used some more help editing this down. The details really don't add anything to the story. It reads more like a report. I really felt no sympathy for her at all (Edit: This sounds cruel but the point I was trying to make was that I didn't find myself feeling anything towards her in part as a result of the writing style). While the Scientology practices did seem crazy, the narrative voice was of a whiny child. Although it seems cruel for parents and children to be separated so much ...more
I always saw Scientology as a cult that uses unstable people for manipulation. This book proves it. I believe every word and I can't believe people use other people to brainwash them and I can't believe that people allow that. It's really sad. What a bunch of sickos. Really good book.
I learned a lot about Scientology from this book. I knew it was "out there" but it was more severe than I thought. The celebrity Scientologists have a different experience than the staff. The staff live it communally, they wear uniforms, they are not allowed to have children, they separate spouses for years at a time. Children brought into the group are separated from parents and put to work.

We, the non Scientologists, are called Wogs. I was surprised to learn they worship no deity. This was a
Reading this book is like reading some weird Utopian novel like The Giver or Never Let Me Go - except that the really scary part is that it is true. I had no idea how crazy Scientology really was/is until I read this book.

Not brilliant writing but good enough - compelling story that moves along though and I'm glad I read it.
Such a powerful, compelling story. It's terribly sad to know that people endure this life everyday in our country. I always knew Scientology was fishy, but I never knew the extent of the brainwashing and control until reading this. I'm so glad she got out. It's sad to me that she is now a complete atheist, but I can understand. It's Scientology's fault that they pushed her away from any possible future belief she could have. I wish her all the happiness in the world with her family, she so deser ...more
Carla Palmeiro
Recently, I had the opportunity to watch the amazing HBO documentary called “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” that really sparked my interest in knowing more about this so-called religion of Scientology. I had just a few vague notions about it, nothing outstandingly negative to be honest thinking that if attracted so many celebrities it could not be that bad. Well it really is! I have now watched a few more documentaries naming: “BBC Panorama The Secrets of Scientology”, “The s ...more
Having grown up in Clearwater not too far from Scientology's flag base I was always curious about the Sea Org members in their uniforms. I was always curious about their religion and I ALWAYS wanted to see inside the Fort Harrison hotel they own. I love architecture and they as a people are always very polite and nice. I got this book because I recognized the author as being a relative of the current head of Scientology so thought it would be fascinating.

I was not in the least disappointed, it i
This book absolutely HAD to be written. It had to be written for herself, for those inside Scientology, and for those who are not. It is the only book that I know of that is written from someone who was "born and bred" to be a Scientologist. (Well, not just any Scientologist, but one whose uncle is the current Top Dog.) The disparaging reviewers of this book say this book is "boring". But hang with her. Jenna absolutely needs to go there to tell her story accurately and give you the backbeat of ...more
Jenna Miscavige Hill's autobiography (written with Lisa Pulitzer) is a frightening, horrific and stunning look at what life is like for children raised inside a cult. Hill tells her story of growing up as a third generation "Thetan" -- grandparents on both sides brought their families to the Church of Scientology long before her birth -- and as the niece of David Miscavige, who ascended to the head of the organization after the death of founder L. Ron Hubbard. While Hill's account does get bogge ...more
Leanne Rayman
Every 7 months or so I get obsessed with reading and learning all I can about Scientology. This book was a must-read for someone like me. I thoroughly enjoyed getting the inside view of what really goes on at Sea Org level, especially after years of catching snippets about poor housing and long working hours for child laborers and having a hard time believing it. It was hard to understand how it could happen, how anyone would let it happen, and how it was such a secret. But this book explores th ...more
I think this book needed some heavy editing to be saved.

Presumably, the target audience for this book would be the millions of people that can not understand why Scientology is considered a religion and not a cult, people that want to know about a crazy-weird way of life that Tom Cruise jumps on couches for and his wives run away from. What makes that organization tic?

Unfortunately there are not many answers in this book to that question. There are some juicy tidbits, like how the church seems
Bravo for the courage of Jenna Hill to recount her lost childhood of being raised in the Church of Scientology. My interest in this book stemmed from having absolutely no knowledge or exposure to Scientology. I am enlightened now. Her story is extreme. It is written in a clear, concise unemotional way. I definitely felt many emotions as I raced through. Overall I felt disbelief and outrage. The abuse that she (and many others) experienced is hard to believe. Children being given up by parents to ...more
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Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, current leader of Scientology. She grew up as a member of the Sea Organization, and was disconnected from her parents at a young age. She left in 2005, and is now happily married, living a fulfilling life outside the church. Jenna has been an active opponent of Scientology abuses, and hopes that her work can help educate others about the dangers of Scientolog ...more
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“Scientology always has been a game of power and control. L. Ron Hubbard was the ultimate con man, and it's hard to figure out how much of Scientology was an experiment in brainwashing and controlling people, and how much of it was truly intended to help people.” 4 likes
“I know now that people who have been abandoned feel the need to test people in their lives by seeing what they will do, seeing if they will abandon them like everyone else if pushed hard enough.” 0 likes
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