Once again, I will marvel at how helpful books can be when you read them at exactly the right time. I was planning to read (listen) to this book afterOnce again, I will marvel at how helpful books can be when you read them at exactly the right time. I was planning to read (listen) to this book after hearing it reviewed on BookRiot's podcast, All the Books. I checked on Overdrive and boop—it was immediately available through my local library! So I downloaded but then I didn't listen to it for a few days. The checkout times for downloaded audiobooks is only about 10 days so I had given up. But then I had a Very Bad Day. And I wanted to read, but I didn't want to read. And I wanted to go for a walk and listen to something distracting, but most of my podcasts are book-related and I didn't really want to hear about books right now as my Bad Day was work (and therefore publishing) related. So I thought I'd see how many days I had left on my checkout. Oddly, it showed I hadn't checked the book out (maybe it had been a full 10 days already and had expired?), so I did, again and started listening immediately. I should have been angry with someone, but I just didn't have it in me to be, and so Leak Remini became my surrogate anger stand-in, like Luther, Key & Peele's "anger translator" for Barack Obama.
I've always liked Leah Remini from Saved by the Bell to King of Queens to Dancing With the Stars. We're close to the same age and I've always liked her attitude which struck me as not too far off from her Queens character, Carrie. And I'm pretty sure I was right. She's feisty, loyal to a fault, not afraid to get in your face, and honest. And she takes it all out on Scientology.
Unlike a lot of celebrities or actors, she didn't come into Scientology as an adult, after her success (or as an effort to gain success). She was about 10 when her mother found Scientology and soon she and her sister were at the Scientology Center with their mother, daily. She talks about how she started studying and working almost immediately, doing grunt work for pennies, not going to school, all not just accepted but encouraged. She always seemed to know she would be an actress. She'd had a knack and it seemed natural from a very young age. In her teens she pursued it seriously, as the family at that point was living in Hollywood, and was very broke (spending all their money on Scientology courses). It took her a while to break in, but she finally did. She was in dozens of failed sitcoms, failed pilots, series that ran for one season or half a season. She certainly did not find immediate success. But she plugged away at it daily, as she understood that this was a job.
She also plugged away daily at Scientology. She truly believed that they were trying to clear the world of evil, and that L. Ron Hubbard (LRH) showed them the path and that if she worked her way through the courses and steps and levels, the world would be a better place. But as an adult, she started to see some sketchy things. Eventually, around the time of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's wedding, the sketchiness became ugly and impossible to ignore any longer. Lies were being spread about her, rules were being blatantly broken for Cruise, and she also began to see the ugliness of asking ordinary people—not just successful actors—to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these courses, often having to buy the same course or the same book over and over again, or having to buy something in order to make up for a transgression, and how that was seriously negativly affecting people's lives and putting them deeply into debt.
She didn't want to leave the church. And she didn't leave because she stopped believing. Her problem was with the church, not the religion or the beliefs. But according to Scientology, they are one and the same. Eventually, she left, and was declared a suppressor, which meant all her Scientologist friends and family had to completely cut her off. Luckily, most of her family also left at the same time, but she lost dozens of lifelong friends.
Sure, plenty of people will say she was just vindictive or that she herself was lying, but if you've seen Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch, you tend to believe Leah's take on his batty behavior. If you've ever yourself lost your faith in something or someone, you'll recognize that her feelings ring true. In particular, as her small daughter charmingly points out that she can know in her head that it's wrong, but not yet know it in her heart, you can't help but understand that this was a serious struggle and challenge for Leah, and not something a person would choose to go through.
I loved that she narrated it herself. Her voice is so distinctive and so her. Once in her first brush with auditioning she was a sent to a voice coach, but he sent her home after just one session, saying her voice was great and she shouldn't change it. It conveyed too much of her personality to modify it. And it probably helped in some of the sarcastic or humorous parts, which I might not have totally gotten without her tone of voice.
Celebrity memoirs aren't my usual thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. And learned much more about Scientology, and how an otherwise sane person can have gotten into such a weird religion. I think that religion is bizarre, but I'm more likely to cut its adherents some slack....more
I wasn't sure about this book. Was I going to like it? It looked really tempting. But so had Into the Wild, which was a rare DNF for me. Was this hermI wasn't sure about this book. Was I going to like it? It looked really tempting. But so had Into the Wild, which was a rare DNF for me. Was this hermit going to be like that privileged brat? Was I going to end up rolling my eyes and frustrated?
Thankfully, no. One day Chris Knight drove to Maine (where he was from) with minor camping equipment, abandoned his car, and hiked for a long way. He stayed in the woods for the next 27 years. Everyone immediately asks what did he do for food? Well, he mostly stole. He really only took a minimum of what he needed, and mostly from the wealthy summer homes (never full-time residents). And that's how he got caught. He also broke into one summer camp and eventually a local parks agent put in security to catch the regular thief. Chris went quietly and peacefully. Articles cropped up all around the country and Mr. Finkel was intrigued and wrote Chris a letter which developed into a conversation.
Is Chris Autistic? Mentally impaired? Does he just hate people? What was behind his disappearance from regular life? What did he get from his solitude? How did he survive the Maine winters? The book answers most all of these questions enough. While Chris is obviously the opposite of a people-person, he's compelling and a true individual.
If you've ever had thoughts of just abandoning it all, if you've ever thought you'd like to get back to nature, if you've ever wanted to just get away permanently, it's fascinating to read about someone who truly did. In those 27 years, he only said, "hi" once. He was excellent at hiding, although he wasn't terribly far from society at all. And Mainers were more understanding and live and let live than most, which helped him go on for so long. It even opened Mr. Finkel's eyes somewhat about his own life and his own choices. Chris Knight was so interesting and unique. This book was a very fast and thought-provoking read. I read it in just two days and my husband immediately started it the same night I finished. I would have enjoyed it if it were twice as long, but of course with Chris's reluctance to communicate with anyone at all, it's exactly as long as it should be.
This book doesn't come out until March 2017, sorry! Put it on your TBR list now....more