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

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  36,753 ratings  ·  3,358 reviews
Jenna Miscavige was raised to obey. As niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this controversial organization. At 21, she made a break, risking everything she'd ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, her escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decad ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by William Morrow/HarperCollins (NYC)
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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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Average rating 3.75  · 
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May 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen Ng
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
Always Pouting
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jenna was raised with Scientology and stayed with the church until 2005. The writing was pretty good for a memoir and I really enjoyed reading it. I think a lot of people who didn't like it were people who expected something dramatic, which I guess the title doesn't help, but the whole point was to reveal what it was really like growing up in the church and the way they brain wash people basically into believing all those things. Jenna did a good job of showing her slow but steady disillusionmen ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
In my time reading biographies (both this current run and in general), I have come across a number of subjects and themes. Many have been political in nature, while others tell of the life and times of a person whose name recognition makes them a household name. It seems my latest topic of interest is the personal struggle, which will surely open up avenues of angst and some painful revelations. This brought me to the piece by Jenna Miscavige Hill, whose entire childhood was shaped by the Church ...more
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said, lets-get-real
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
Mariah Roze
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because a friend of mine on Goodreads read it and loved it. Also, I love learning about different religions, especially when people take religion to the extreme. Like in Jenna's situation. She was born into a extreme situation of Scientology.

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige. This gave her a different perspective and experience growing up then the other scientologist around her. THis helped her in the beginning to get some s
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bio-memoir

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 aske
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to the audio of Beyond Belief. I could have been listening to some kind of scary fiction, but I was hearing the author's story of her life growing up in the church of Scientology. I didn't know much about Scientology before starting other than it seems to attract a bunch of celebrities and it is based on the sci-fi thoughts of L. Ron Hubbard. Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of the leader who succeeded Hubbard. Her parents moved onto one of the church's bases when she was two years o ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
Scientology reminds me of Stalinism. What is described in this book is a terrifying combination of abuse, nonsensical rules, extreme control, brainwashing, punishment, hard labor, and isolation. Jenna deserves 5 million stars for being born into Scientology, raised on a compound surrounded by and submerged in Scientology doctrine, and somehow getting both herself and her husband out, despite being the niece of the pack leader. This is an unbelievable show of bravery, strength, and what else. ...more
Ross Blocher
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've done a fair amount of reading, watching and personal investigation into the topic of Scientology, and somehow I wasn't expecting to get a lot of new information from this book. I was wrong. In Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, Jenna Miscavige Hill shares in impressive detail what it's like to be raised within Scientology and recruited at the tender age of 7 into Scientology's clerical order, the Sea Org. Her name alone encodes some of the story: anyon ...more
Imogen Kathleen
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A haunting and fascinating insight into the bizarre world of scientology, Jenna Miscavige Hill's autobiography details her escape from the cult.
I didn't really know what to expect with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised at how Jenna told her story, whilst also providing lots of information about scientology as a whole. Whilst some scenes were decidedly disturbing, it was eye-opening to read about how extreme the lives of others can be, especially when they are born into it.
If you haven't
In the U.S., religion and the freedom to practice it is a kind of shibboleth — because we have enshrined the First Amendment, we are very reluctant to impose any sort of restrictions on religious practice, and even most people who don't care for a religion will be loathe to categorically state any particular religion is wrong, bad, or evil. The exceptions are generally either bigots or folks whose own religious beliefs are so exclusionary that by necessity they must regard all other faiths as an ...more
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I went into this with fairly strong preconceived notions of what I would find. Scientology may be mysterious, but everything I had heard of it previously was disconcerting. Beyond Belief only emphasized my impression of something I can only describe as a cult. The Church of Scientology seeks to control individuals from as early an age as possible, brainwashing, separating families and putting children to work when they should be in school. It's so bizarre that an organization like this is allowe ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
In the book 'Beyond Belief' Jenna Miscavage Hill describes in detail how the Scientology Church worked. Her descriptions of the church actually fits every line of the list on how to run a mind-control cult, using the proven indoctrination methods of authoritarian regimes, prisons, religious cults and military units the world over.

She discusses what happened to her in which she was made to accept the teaching of Scientology from early childhood to her adult life. The only thing benign about what
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Catherine Howard
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
(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 will say up front that I view Scientology much the same way I view organized religion as a whole, which is offensive to many. That is okay. To each their own.

What makes Scientology so fascinating to me is that so many people are taken in by their beliefs and yet it is so separate from the rest of society. It seems most people are born into it, and indoctrinated from a very young age, so they don't know any better. I guess all religions are that way, really, but Scientology takes their beliefs
Natasha Niezgoda
Preface: I mean no disrespect via this review. I know religion and beliefs are 100% personal and sacred.

Okay, so in college, I minored in comparative religious studies. I find alllll religions COMPLETELY fascinating, especially new-aged religions. So when first-hand accounts surface on the inner workings of these new-aged religions, I am all over it.

This book was particularly intriguing because Jenna Miscavige is literally the niece of David, who is the head of the Church of Scientology. So I
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's been quite awhile since I read this book, but its impact remains. Just a tremendous, thoughtful, well-written journey into the life experience of Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of Scientology's leader, David Miscavige. Ms. Miscavige gives a compelling and detailed account of growing up in Scientology and her eventual harrowing departure from it as an adult. Whatever one's opinions of Scientology, we're all human, and to walk through anyone's experience with trauma, no matter the source, is ...more
Diane Yannick
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, cults
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
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
At my last book club meeting, we all expressed an interest in the understanding the underlying allure of cult religions. One very pubic “cult” religion is Scientology (many thanks to Tom Cruise and his crazy eyes while discussing Scientology). So we picked “Beyond Belief, My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape” to read. I always read Memoirs with a bit of caution; after all, it’s one person’s point of view. I was impressed with the Author’s Note at the beginning, where Ms. Mis ...more
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-stories
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. ...more
Katie B
Jenna Miscavige Hill was a third generation Scientologist who left the church in 2005. She is the niece of the current leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige. In this memoir, Jenna shares her experiences growing up in the church and being left to essentially fend for herself as her parents jobs within the organization were priority number one. Jenna talks about her time as a Sea Org member and what ultimately led to her deciding to leave the church.

I thought I knew quite a lot abou
Rachel Sharp
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although nobody asked me to, in comparison to Leah Remini's 'Troublemaker', I took this book as a shedding of light on how someone in The Hoax of Scientology that isn't a celebrity is treated when disconnected from the cult. Then again, Jenna is of the Miscaviages and they themselves are the backbone of Scientology.
Jenna does a spectacular job making it clear as day how ludicrous the policy of Scientology is. From being separated from her family to her marriage being sabotaged, I haven't read an
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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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