I have waited so long to read this book and I finally got the opportunity to do so when I found this book at a used bookstore for $1. Ever since it was announced that Leah Remini was coming out with a book that, as marketing claimed, was an exposé on the Church of Scientology, I wanted in. Every time I entered a Barnes & Noble, I would look longingly at this book on the shelf and tell it that one day I would come back for it, having found something else more valuable in the store that I could spend my 15% off coupon on. I wanted to know every bizarro detail regarding the church and, I’ll admit, on Tom Cruise. However after finishing this book, it’s clear that this book is 100% a memoir which, as the title suggests, is equal parts about Remini’s life as an actress and as a scientologist.
As Remini was indoctrinated into Scientology as a child, it was fascinating to see how Scientologists treated children (and even babies) the same way they treated adults. The fact that they have children perform manual labor, paid at $15/week, and using tough-love methods for training is certainly in child abuse territory. I can’t even begin to explain the backwardness of some of their regulations and policies and they way they treat humans and fellow Scientologists like cash cows and use gaslighting, manipulation, and guilt as a means of getting away with their behavior. As for the Tom Cruise sections of the book, I felt as if the inner workings of the Church of Scientology is as eerily close to any sort of Illuminati group that may be among us. The behaviors allowed of the higher-ups within the church was spine-chilling, particularly in regards to the disappearance of Shelley Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
Despite all of Remini’s qualms and condemnations regarding Scientology, it’s interesting (yet understandable) that she still finds value within their teachings. It’s made her who she is today and has also made her a better person in some regards. She acknowledges the toxic and intense behaviors within the church but also understands the allure it has to those who are curious and interested. It says a lot about her that as a Scientologist, she was reluctant to pull friends into the church because of the religion’s intensity. In spite of being a committed Scientologist, Remini proves herself to be a empathic and loyal human being. However, this is ironically what constantly gets her in trouble with the church in the first place: her inability to turn the other cheek when she sees injustice and unkindness.
As for her career related sections, I was intrigued to learn that Remini’s family started off in extreme poverty. The way she managed to work her way up in Hollywood despite let-down after let-down is certainly admirable, and something I can relate to. I am only familiar with Remini’s work on King of Queens, as it was one of the shows that I regularly watched after school when I was in middle and high school. But I do find her likable and have always admired the way that she carries herself on the show. It may not have been my favorite show, but it was entertaining and a big part of the reason why I watched it was because Remini was on it. I always wondered why she was never more famous than she is but it is clear that, again, her inability to look the other way when she is treated unfairly is part of the reason. She won’t just bowl over even if her job is on the line. She’s headstrong, says what’s on her mind, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
I feel like I’ve gained some insight regarding the television industry through reading Remini’s experiences and I really admire her for sticking to her guns and not compromising to appease others. We definitely need more people like her out there in the television and film industry. Although her strong personality will probably prove too much for me if we ever met in real life, I can confidently say that in some ways, she inspires me to be less afraid of vocalizing my opinions and to speak out in times of injustice. She encourages me to be more fiercely loyal to those around me and to protect myself from those to seek to use my weaknesses against me. While this book may not have been what I expected when I began reading, I’m glad that I was finally able to pick this book up.
This book is a good starting point to learn a bit on Scientology and the the television industry works. For those who are interested in Scientology but not familiar with Remini’s work, I would still encourage you to pick this book up. There is a decent amount that deals with her life outside of Scientology but I think she gives a good account of how Scientology permeates all aspects of her life. However, there may be other books focusing mostly on Scientology that may be of more interest to you, such as Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrow Escape written by Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of the present leader of Scientology. All I can say is that I, personally, feel as if I’ve learned a lot and will definitely be reading more on this “religion” in the future.