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Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  5,944 ratings  ·  711 reviews
In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”

At age fourteen Dianne Lake—with li
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by William Morrow
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William Morrow A note from the publisher, William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins:

The author is not a criminal. She was a victim of Charles Manson’s psychologic…more
A note from the publisher, William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins:

The author is not a criminal. She was a victim of Charles Manson’s psychological, sexual, and physical abuse. At 17, she provided testimony that was critical to the prosecution and conviction of Charles Manson and the other family members responsible for the murders. Dianne Lake was an innocent fourteen-year-old girl who was lured into a cult that turned violent. She was never at the scene of any of the murders.

We applaud her courage in testifying then and in coming forward now to tell the truth about her experiences.(less)

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Start your review of Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties
Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake, Deborah Herman is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

Raw, brutally honest, and harrowing account of Dianne Lake’s life in the Manson Cult.

It goes without saying that this book is difficult to read. Dianne holds nothing back as she takes us through her life, explaining how she ended up with Manson and what her life was like inside his cult, living under his thumb, and h
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
At 14 I became one of Charles Manson's girls. At 17 I helped put him in prison'......
"Member of the Family - Manson, Murder and Me" is the true story of Charles Manson, one of the 20th Century's most notorious criminal figures - of life inside his cult, the group's descent into madness and the darkness that ended the sixties. Dianne Lake was the youngest and among the earliest of his recruits to what became infamously known as, the 'Family'. She did not participate in the infamous Tate-Labianca
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-arcs
What a harrowing, sad and compelling read this was, Dianne Lake was the youngest member of Charles Manson’s Family and she goes into great detail revealing the three years she spent as a member of one of the most notorious cults in the world. Since she was just a child during her time with Manson this is all the more haunting to know that such a young girl experienced so many horrors at the hands of a deranged and sick individual. Even knowing it’s all true it’s hard to imagine that the events s ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-a-copy, ebooks
Author Dianne Lake (1953-) became the youngest member of the Manson family at 14, and she shares her incredible story in “Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties” Dianne had lived an ordinary life as a wife, mother, and special education teacher—her married name had afforded her a degree of anonymity, and she had not disclosed her story publically or with her children. This would change with the call of a reporter looking for ...more
Ellen Gail

I don't usually talk about potential triggers in books when I review, but I'm making an exception for this one. If you decide to read this, be prepared for extensive and frequent descriptions of the manipulation, sexual assault, and rape of a 14 year old. Like the level of detail was stomach turning. And as much as I enjoyed the narration in the audiobook, I wish I would have gone with a physical copy. I definitely wanted to skim sometimes.

So, wou
Jacqueline Wheeler
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2021
I picked this book up for my new series on YouTube called Reading Recs Sent by You (watch the reading vlog HERE: https://youtu.be/1MDtxwXlgAk). My friend Penny recommended this book and I was already in love with it only 78 pages in. I loved the 60s vibes and all the stories about the hippies having huge dance parties outside and taking LSD. I really enjoy that Dianne tells the whole story of her life and that the entire book isn't about her life with Charles Manson.

*lots of trigger warnings fo
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whoa! Exceeds expectations, to put it mildly. I couldn't put it down, to the detriment of my real life, even though I could have googled at any time to see how it turned out.

Dianne Lake wasn't there for the murders, and was never sentenced for anything. She was a minor, 16 in 1969 at the time of the killings, and 14 (!) when she was recruited to the Family. But her story starts long before that, as these things do, with a father who dove wholeheartedly into the spiritual exploration and ethos o
Valerity (Val)
I found this to be an incredibly involving read that kept my interest and overall really blew me away. Having read quite a few of the many books written about the murders through the years, and having collected some along the way, I've always been strangely intrigued by the whole story like many people. Written by Dianne Lake, who tells her story of joining the Manson Family as its youngest member at age 14 after becoming lonely and unhappy with her commune-living hippie like family after they " ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This is another review that proves how “uncultured” I am, because I honestly don’t know very much about Charles Manson & the Family. This book was mostly new information for me as a result. I found it supremely interesting and can’t wait to get my hands on “Helter Skelter”.
Debra Jarus
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could not put it down!

A fascinating, troubling look at the 60's counterculture movement, and how it was perverted by a madman. Having grown up in this era, it has given me a new appreciation for my over protective parents. The author's story, while sad, is ultimately an uplifting view of the power of the human spirit and the power of God.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, at first I was skeptical. I kind of thought this would be another self-serving account of a Manson follower trying to excuse murders. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Dianne Lake was just 14 years old when she joined Charles Manson's cult... (just let that sink in for a minute). At 16, members of "The Family" went on their gruesome two-night murder spree. At 17, she found herself in a courtroom testifying against her friends, helping to put them behind bars where most of them rema
Ashley Daviau
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will never stop being fascinated by Charles Manson and the things he convinced so many people of, it truly blows my mind. Getting to hear the story of a former Family member was both absolutely riveting and terrifying. I never understood how people could fall for Manson’s charms but after reading this account I can see how it could be all too easy. In Dianne’s case, it was a broken home and unstable childhood and always feeling unloved that led her to fall under Manson’s spell. And reading wha ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
"But that's what it means to be in a cult: You lose a part of yourself to someone else or to a group, so that your entire mind no longer belongs to you."

Member of the Family is a fascinating & haunting read. Dianne Lake is a former Manson Girl, and she goes to very intense levels to be open with the world. I'm impressed by her honesty, and grateful that she chose to share her story.

The book is sad, and is very relatable to my teenage years. Obviously my story is not the same AT ALL, but it's ve
Jenna Bookish
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Member of the Family was not entirely what I expected, and I think in this case that was a good thing. A pretty significant portion of the book takes place before Charles Manson was ever on Dianne Lake's radar, and this makes for a pretty interesting character study in what made Lake vulnerable to be recruited into a cult. She was just 14 years old and her parents had more or less checked out. Like many who find themselves recruited into cults, Lake was feeling incredibly isolated and desperate ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
The experience is traumatic and devastating, but the writing is pedestrian ( even with the help of the co-author), the tone is very self-righteous and way too instructive and knowledgeable.

What is more, her ugly evangelical attitude is up and loud in this book because in the past she was delusional when it comes to Charlie Manson and prophesies, but now she found the right god that she KNOWS is true. She obviously knows it because there is plenty of empirical evidence, right?

I guess the brain
Nettie Grey
The writing isn't brilliant (not that I expected it to be), but I was still moved by this first hand account of an abused and neglected young girl seeking a place to belong in a world that was eager to exploit but not nurture her. Dianne's parents "dropped out" of straight society when she was young, and they seemed to lose interest in her wellbeing at about the same time. She ended up joining the Manson Family for the camaraderie and love that she was shown by the group initially, but stayed be ...more
Kim Ebner
Jun 28, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

This was a totally fascinating read. I loved every minute of it. I listened to the audio book which is narrated by the author herself, and I always feel that brings a great level of authenticity to the story. As for the story itself, it read like fiction at times. What this person went through, at such a young age, the mind boggles. Smoking pot, frequently taking acid, taking part in group sex - all at the tender age of 14. Wow! I don't even think I knew what those things were at that
Chance Lee
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-story
This book ultimately felt like one overly detailed sexual encounter after another, so much so that when I was skimming the book I thought this passage was about sex: "His powerful legs pummeled me -- bump, bump, bump -- but I wouldn't let go. He never slowed down. The sand and gravel sprayed my face and went into my mouth as Starfire tried to leave me in the dust. As I was underneath his chest, his went mixing with my own, he came to a full stop."

She was actually riding a horse.

Lent to me by a w
“I’d come to the Family because I’d wanted to belong, because I was looking for a place in the world. I was gradually drawn in until I couldn’t see how lost I’d become.”

Captivating! It starts by laying the groundwork of Lake’s upbringing with drug-addled hippie parents who set her loose at age 14. Then, there’s life with Charlie and the Family. She doesn’t hold back about her participation in the cult or about helping send the guilty to prison.
Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee
This was a very interesting story!! If you like true crime I'd highly recommend this book!! ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have previously read Helter Skelter, along with watching many documentaries about the Manson Family, but I have yet to read a book or watch a documentary that was written by one of the members of the Mason Family. The author has divided this book into 3 parts; the first part explains her life prior to joining the Family and how she eventually ended up the Family, the second part tells about her time, about 2 years, with the Mason Family and the third part tells about her experience escaping th ...more
Missy (myweereads)
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Memories fade, but trauma remembers.”

Member Of The Family by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman is a hard and disturbing look into Dianne’s life during the 60s when she was a member of Charles Manson’s infamous cult. At the age of 14 she had no idea what she was getting herself into and this book takes a vivd look at her life with the Family.

I purposely read this book after re-reading Helter Skelter and can honestly say as much information as one can gather of Manson’s control over his family, this
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
An insider’s view of the Manson family is a welcome addition to the collection of Manson books. This is well told by Dianne Lake, who was 14 when the family absorbed her. The tale is harrowing, as anyone familiar with this group of people knows, and I found it to be gripping through the very end.
Kerry Casey
Really good book. Super informative in a way that many other Manson-esq bios and memoirs are not. This really provided an eye opening account of life within the Manson family, without focusing on the sensationalism of the crimes and the circus around them. It also really stood out in detailing the rise of the counter culture happening in the 60's - of experimentation and the desire to drop.out of society, in the search for mind expansion, something 'more' and 'greater'.

Lake shares stories of her
Kim Friant
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 Stars—I think this might be the end of my true crime obsession for a little while. People really are horrible and stupid. Ok, let me go back to the beginning. I decided to listen to this audiobook narrated by Dianne Lake herself. I have read Helter Skelter several times and I wanted to learn more about the family itself and the people in it. This book gave great info in a far more personal way. It’s easy to look in from the outside and criticize and judge, but when you get a glimpse of the rea ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book--a happy ending for a Manson victim

Dianne Lake was 14 when she joined Charles Manson's Family. She was there because her mixed up parents decided they didn't have to take care of her anymore. That's why I say she's a victim.
You want to reach through the book and shake her mom and dad until their teeth rattle. What in hell were they thinking?!

But ultimately she's a victor. She got mental health help, testified against the murdering Charlie and his Family. She got an education, ma
Pooja Peravali
Nov 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Dianne Lake was the youngest member of the Manson Family. In this book she narrates the story of her childhood - how she came to fall under Charles Manson's influence, and how she managed to emerge from under it.

This is a fascinating read; its not often you get the chance to learn about the Mason family from such an intimate standpoint. I liked that the author starts from her childhood, because it allows us to understand how she came to the point that she was susceptible to Manson in the first p
Ghoul Von Horror
Release Date: Oktober 24th, 2017
Genre: True crime
Rating: 💝💝💝💝 3.5

What I Liked:
1. Was an interesting look into the hippie movement that pretty much pushed their kids out of their lives.

What I Didn't Like:
1. Some of it seemed so outlandish

Overall Thoughts: While I enjoyed this book I found parts of it just ridiculous. There are a lot of parts where I'm like there is no way. For one thing she talks about how she has to bite the umbilical cord because Manson said that's how
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the unknown story behind the known story. The authors perspective of events is heartbreaking. At times you want to choke the life out of the adults in her life, ALL of them, because they were so selfish and just plain ignorant but she is more than a survivor, she is a conqueror. Her faith has truly worked miracles in her life. I'm glad she was able to have an incredible life after the fiasco that was her youth. ...more
Jennifer Ozawa
I just want to find Dianne Lake and give her a big hug. This book is disturbing, to put it mildly.

Dianne found herself controlled by a maniac when she was too young to even know how fully capable of evil people are. Add to that being brought into this world by the worst parents of all time, and you have a recipe for a very unique brand of WTF.

The hippie philosophy is so rife with sexist bullshit hypocrisy. The “free love” thing only seems to suit dudes and she points this out, too.
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