Full Disclosure: I am NOT a Scientologist nor is it something that remotely interests me from a "faith" perspective, but I do enjoy reading about the subject. I have read a few books on Scientology and Scientologists. If this is something that even remotely interests you, you need to read this book.
Remini is the consummate comedian throughout the book. Even things you know were tragic in her life, she adds a self-depricating spin to them that undoubtedly makes you laugh.
The book covers her life's quest both in Scientology as well as Hollywood in general. Remini provides a good, behind the scenes look at the ins and outs of the Hollywood sitcom world and what was necessary to get "in". She accounts her struggles in trying to land a role in a good sitcom that would allow her to provide for her family culminating with the successful time with King of Queens for nine seasons. She also discusses the commitment to Scientology and the burden that it placed on her life from a time, money, relationships and emotional perspective.
Remini is very down to earth and shows a great deal of concern for her family. She essentially is the matriarch of her family when it comes to financial concerns. At an early age, she makes sacrifices for the betterment of her mother and sisters. She discusses the abuses of her father and how he treated her and her sister. Although he is portrayed as a non-supportive, disconnected father, the man was spot-on when he warned her about the religion.
Remini accounts her youth in New York as she and her sister lived an exploratory life in the big city and traveled to a from it to follow her mom's footsteps in Scientology. She eventually joins the "Sea Org" for a short-lived tenure there. She tells the story of being 'overboarded', in which a partitioner will be taken out far from shore on a boat and thrown into the water until such time as they agree to whatever it is the one initiating the 'overboard' process wants. She tells the story how she did not reverse herself and did not give in. Unable to utter the words the offender wanted her to say. Save the Scientology spin, I really connected with her youth since we are only a year apart in age and many of the things she talked about form parallels in my life. She talks about her promiscuity and even later in life, her infidelities.
She later recounts the infamous "wedding" events where she, her husband Angelo, Jenifer Lopez and Marc Anthony accompanied A-Lister Tom Cruz and Katie Holme's wedding in an Italian Castle. She tells a story of the church trying to separate Lopez and Anthony from her and her husband the entire time. Leah was subsequently reported and fined, and although later exonerated, the church took years (6) to credit her the money she had initially paid as penance for her actions. In Scientology, if you request refunds from the church, you are automatically labeled an 'SP', Suppressive Person which by Church bylaws is no longer entitled to a "refund". So essentially, if you want your money back, you become an SP which disqualifies you for getting refunds. Furthermore, it was extremely interesting to get a behind the scenes account of Tom Cruise and what he is truly like. Because of my professional career, I have met and interacted with many famous people. The one thing I have gotten from it is somewhat cynical sense of thinking about these people. Most of the time, they are not the nice people they portray on TV shows and movies. Many of them are ingrates, self absorbed, narcissistic and have little concern about the "little people". This is why I do not normally put any stock in what these people spew about politics, economics and other subject that quite frankly they don't REALLY care about.
I was shocked, quite honestly by the overt hatred for homosexuality, more so than the supposedly hatred felt by Christians. We hear these Holywooders [sic] speaking out against a particular political party for being associated with a religion that does not support LGBTQ yet do not turn their guns on Tom Cruise and the members of Scientology or even those of some other religions that have no rights for women or homosexuals. It is very much a selective outrage scenario.
Leah discusses her concerns of Shelly Miscavage; David Miscavage's wife which has been missing since 2007. She has gone out of her way to help find her.
This is a short book but packed with great information. I truly commend Leah Remini and her strength to openly oppose a religion, group, corporation and/or cult that has a history crushing anyone that opposes them. I am a firm believer of the freedom to practice your religion of choice, however with that said, I believe even greater that right of people to choose. I do not believe that a religion has a right to kill someone because they have deemed so or choose to treat certain people differently because of their sex, orientation, race etc. I would love to see our authorities investigate allegations of malfeasance as reported by partitioners or former partitioners. From all that I have read, this particular groups saddles its followers with HUGE financial strains and engages in unethical business practices, not to mention that if a fraction of the allegations are true about the practices of holding people against their will, physical abuse, mental abuse or emotional abuse are true, there should be criminal charges brought to those responsible for them. Additionally, any religion that tells you to disconnect from your family because those people are "SP" or enemies of the church, should be avoided at all costs.
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 20, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)