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Daughter of Gloriavale: My life in a Religious Cult

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  790 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In this personal account, Lilia Tarawa exposes the shocking secrets of the cult, with its rigid rules and oppressive control of women. She describes her fear when her family questioned Gloriavale's beliefs and practices.

When her parents fled with their children, Lilia was forced to make a desperate choice: to stay or to leave. No matter what she chose, she would lose peop
Kindle Edition, 261 pages
Published August 23rd 2017 by Allen & Unwin
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Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rumour-has-it
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would - it didn't feel sensationalist at all, and I thought she did a fantastic job of depicting her life in Gloriavale. It was an intriguing insight into the community, and overall, it's a book about overcoming difficulties, rather than something written for shock value (which, I'll admit, is what I was expecting going into it).
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A gem of a book. Lilia writes with deep honesty, exposing herself to the world with great courage. She describes vividly the metamorphosis from servitude and fearful self-doubt, to freedom and self-love. The pain of breaking the physical, emotional and mental chains must have been enormous. I certainly could not have had the strength to do what she did and not shatter.

I hope your story gives strength and hope to others who are striving for freedom of any kind.

Te Aroha Maia indeed Lilia. You des
Jessica Gillies
I admire Lilia for having the courage to speak out about her experiences at Gloriavale , both positive and negative- as well as their real consequences as she left and adjusted to life outside the community. This book certainly both inspired and challenged me.
Fiona Mackie
Enjoyed reading this as it is such a contrast to the very saccharine tv documentaries that have aired in New Zealand. I admire Lilia's determination to dismantle the indoctrination she received, and to make a life for herself, outside the strictures and restrictions that she had absorbed growing up in Gloriavale.
I think a family tree or list of people mentioned and their relationship to Lilia would have been very useful though, as the families are very big and keeping track of how people were r
Another intense story of a young woman (and her family, in this case) escaping the bondage of a "Christian" cult, in New Zealand.

I saw Lilia Tarawa's TEDX presentation and was impressed with her poise and ability to explain about the conflict she felt between the beauty of the Gloriavale locale and her idyllic childhood experiences with a loving extended family, and the oppression she felt and observed as she grew up into an adolescent.

The book had what I consider a good pace, and was well plan
Smokerjoerabbit Tong
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone in New Zealand should read this book....Lilia writes with honesty and clarity about the confines of the religious cult of Gloriavale on the West Coast of NZ. I think many Kiwis can say after watching the TV documentaries also, this particular cult has been of huge interest to the public in general. I loved her writing style and that she has gone on to live a successful life despite what she's been through. Highly recommend
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book as a bit of voyeuristic 'not in my back yard' type of read. It's so strange to think that there is this extreme pocket of conservative religious sect on the West Coast. The abuse is awful and I like how the author didn't shy away from that, but also focused on the good parts.

I did find the writing very simple and stilted at the beginning of the novel. When recalling the community and her life at Gloriavale, the story just didn't flow as well as in later chapters. I realise i
Marie Nicol
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Amazing book. could not put it down. Lilia shares with such honesty and openness sharing her struggles, questions and pain Such a well written book !!!! I wish her all the happiness in the world for her bravery. Torn between two she was bought up in and knew no other way ...then another world of freedom but causing her turmoil and conflict in her heart. wishing you much love Lilia for your future...for total healing and happiness xxxx
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"That evening I poured it all out to Mum. She was furious, both at what Nathaniel had done but also because she couldn't do anything about it. She was a woman and had little power to intervene in the men's realm. Both of us waited to see what punishment the men would give to Nathaniel. Nothing happened...I was disgusted."

Oh how the feels rose up around me. The beginning of this book made me angry. There were so many moments where the full blown power of my rage at ignorance let vent to some abs
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, reviewed
Daughter of Gloriavale exposes life in Gloriavale and how every one has a job and how every decision is made for you by someone else.

It's taken Lilia years to emerge from the shadow of Gloriavale, to share her story, "Transformation and healing don't happen overnight," she writes in her book.

"You have to be willing to get uncomfortable, stay open-minded and speak up for what you believe in. It is the best rebellion."

There have been many allegations about Gloriavale, most of them bad, such as for
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this book up on a whim. Actually, a friend of a friend was reading it and I 'borrowed' it. I probably wouldn't have read this kind of book otherwise. I don't tend to read a lot of non-fiction but I do want to read more of the genre.
This book reads like a good novel in a lot of ways. The writing style is simple but the story sucked me in. Yes, it is difficult and horrifying to read about some of the events that occurred (the fact that these events actually took place is hard for my ficti
Anne-Marie Burgess
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alle, 2017
Fascinating! Of course we all knew what we were watching in the documentaries was hammed up for the outside world, but Lilia's story really shows why Gloriavale is a cult and not the harmonious religious community that the leaders want us to believe. Each to their own but what they are doing there is nothing short of 'religious' conditioning and brainwashing. My personal opinion. Welcome to the world Lilia.
An easy read, albeit light on some details.
Picked this one up as a bookclub read and am glad I finally got around to it.
Strength to Lilia, you've done a brave thing.

For those who want more details about the early days of Gloriavale, I recommend Sins of the Father, by Fleur Beale (who assisted Lilia in the writing of this memoir)
Emma Rickerby
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
such a captivating book. Fascinating from start to finish, Looking at the world through Lilia's eyes really makes you appreciate your own up bringing but also look at life a little different to. Such brave step to tell her story.
Michaela Miller
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realize how I grew up in a cult and how some of the “churches” of America are cultish in some of their practices.
I want to recreate and discover myself! Find who I am! This book is a life changer for anyone raised in a strict religious and rule heavy environment!
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book about a young girl in New Zealand being raised in a strict religious cult and her eventual escape.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Let's say that this is a strong 2.5.
First, let me say that Lilia Tarawa is an intelligent, brave young woman who has done a lot of good with her life already. I am genuinely excited to see what else she does in her life to empower others and to expose religious abuse. While reading this book, I watched her TedX talk and the TV interview she did while still in the cult.
Unfortunately, despite her talents and the potential for this book, it is just not engaging. Everything is told, not shown. Ins
Alejandra Castaneda
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book, loved everything about it. Inspiring story, makes you want to go and chase your dreams regardless of what the world or in the case of the author our community has told us.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never written a Goodreads review before, but this book deserves more reviews so here I am! This is such an uplifting and empowering read, and I'm so glad I bought it.

I discovered Gloriavale by having the documentary series recommended via Reddit (the one that's on Amazon Prime). I found it fascinating but found it rather odd that they didn't explore any criticisms of the group, just mentioned dissenters in passing. I did some more reading online and discovered this book and felt that it would be
Alison Hornstein
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Quick interesting read. Lilia Tarawa was Gloriavale royalty as the grandchild of Hopeful Christian. Her mother managed/directed all the female activities and her father traveled on business to support the community, frequently coming into contact with non-cult members. The book falls flat because the author failed to utilize her parents experiences to build out her book and give thorough explanations. Many of the chapters seem half complete as she relies almost solely on her childhood memory/int ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lillia Tarawa did very well recounting what life as a daughter of Gloriavale was like, and keeping it from becoming a sensationalist exposé. I can't say that anything in it surprised me - it was pretty much exactly what I expected from a cult which actively suppresses women as part of their control mechanism.

I do think that in some areas punches were pulled too much. I get that Tarawa was fortunate to not have been caught up in any of the allegations that saw her grandfather convicted and contin
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating look at what life is like inside a cult. Sometimes Lilia wasn't quite objective enough -- she certainly shied away from discussion of her grandfather's criminal history -- but having the ability to distance yourself enough from family to really objectively look at them must be hard. There was enough of an impression of what Cooper was like from the book that, as someone who wasn't aware of the story or Gloriavale prior to reading, I was still able to see a lot of his flaws ...more
A really worthwhile read especially if you have had some kind of a background in Church whether it be New Life type or traditional Catholicism or similar. I found it sincere, touching and not at all sensationalistic like the journalists who visited and portrayed Gloriavale. Tarawa genuinely looked up to her grandfather Hopeful Christian and loves her cousins and friends still in Gloriavale and those who have left. The book shows how she gradually developed her own understanding of God's will and ...more
Erica Martinez
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I stumbled upon Lilia's Tedx talk while watching mini documentaries on YT at like 2 in the morning, and from the moment I heard her speak, I was hooked. He optimism and inspiring words drew me in and made me want to learn more about her and learn more about this community that she grew up in. I had no idea cults like these still existed in modern day. From that moment on I searched YT and the internet for more information about Gloriavale and other recent/modern day cults. Then I found out Li ...more
Chris Walker
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting insight into the inner workings of the West Coast cult group from the point of view of an insider who broke away after 18 years of being brought up in the community. What's particularly notable about this is the fair minded way that Tarawa tells her story and the feel and genuine affection she still holds for family members and friends she left behind and even for what could be considered the strengths of life in the community. There are also clear and frank accounts of the ab ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book this week and can't believe how amazing it was. I can't even articulate how much I enjoyed not just the empowering, inspirational story, but the truly beautiful writing. The vivid language and beautiful, profound prose absolutely blew me away - I was so impressed that Lilia penned it on her own, without the aide of a ghostwriter, and produced a truly striking piece of work. I think her potential as a writer is enormous, and hope to see more work from her in the future ( ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
If you want a critical look at life inside the Gloriavale cult, this book isn’t quite it. It is, however, a fascinating story of life inside the cult including plenty of moments of happiness.
The book could have done with a much snappier edit, but Lil’s conflict over leaving Gloriavale and her struggles with what religion means to her will strike a chord with anyone who has left any religious group.
There is still some part of this chick who will always be a leader and some part who will always be in a cult...not that there’s anything wrong with that. Read this book for the top level: the voyerism of looking into a strange society with male dominance and of course, those snippets of sexual deviancy, but also look deeper into the author’s psyche, where she ends up, her transitions, who she considers herself to be now.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A childhood at Gloriavale then an insightful journey into the "world". This book isn't just for people interested in religious cults like Gloriavale, it's for anyone who's been through a massive life change and needs/appreciates the survival story Lilia offers. I praise her for sharing her experiences and using them to help and inspire others. The book is well worth a read!
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Lilia Tarawa is a New Zealand Māori #1 best-selling author and transformational speaker whose personal story has inspired millions of people around the world to speak their truth and claim their power.

Her #1 best-selling memoir Daughter of Gloriavale: My Life in a Religious Cult, was written in 4 months, part-time around her day job.

Her TEDxTalk, 'I grew up in a cult. It was heaven—and hell.' rock

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