Monday, 14 March 2016

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

Author: Leah Remini
Genre: Memoir
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Ballantine Books
First Published: November 3, 2015
First Line: "As far back as I remember, I was always performing and trying to make people laugh."

Book Description from GoodReads: The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.

Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

My Review: Before reading this book I knew Leah Remini was as an actress who had been on King of Queens and done some guest spots on Friends and Who's the Boss back in the day. But until she left the church of Scientology a few years ago I had no idea that she had been raised as a Scientologist. 

In this tell-all/memoir Remini reveals her struggles to make it in Hollywood, the celebrities she met along the way and some of her famous friends who have stuck by her (some of whom surprised me).  Throughout the book she shares how Scientology shaped the woman she is and how it encompassed almost her entire world.

From the beginning you know that Remini isn't some spoiled Hollywood starlet.  She comes off as more than a little brash but she's down-to-earth, likable, funny, unpretentious and I like that she doesn't hide her flaws from her readers.  She knows that she has a big mouth but she's brutally honest, fiercely loyal and I respect that. 

Knowing that she's a 'regular kinda gal' (by Hollywood standards) makes reading about her struggles to fit into the mold the Scientology organization has set for her hard to read.  If you're a rule follower and accept the path Scientology has set for you you'll do great.  If you have an opinion and question anything, like Remini, you'll have problems and you'll pay (financially and more) for those disagreements. 

I found reading about how Scientology operates hard to stomach and quite maddening, if I'm being honest.  From what Remini describes, it doesn't value family bonds or education (unless it's Scientology based), treats people lower down the chain with sometimes harsh and costly punishments for misdeeds while ignoring the misdeeds of couch jumping erratic celebs.  It was shocking. 

What was more shocking was how indoctrinated the followers are.  The church helps this along by doing what it can to keep SPs (Suppressive Persons) - people who have spoken out against the church or who have left it - away from their followers.  They don't want critical thinking, they want followers that they can manipulate into giving over large sums of money to take courses to get higher up the chain of command.  Everything was about keeping their followers close and away from outside influences.  It's all about control ... and money. Lots and lots of money

Reading her memoir has given me a clearer picture of what Scientology entails and also gives me quite a different view of Tom Cruise and how much of an influence he has within the church.  Getting a birds eye view of his wedding to Katie Holmes was eye-opening to say the least.

So it comes as no surprise that I was more than eager to read about how she left the church. This book brought out a lot of emotions in me. You easily root for Remini to find her way and even though you know that she's a 'troublemaker' and left the church, seeing her struggle, be ridiculed, berated etc for her questions about her religion, which she wholeheartedly loved and supported were hard to read.  She was devoted to her church but they were not devoted to her.

This is a well-written, emotional and gutsy book.  She doesn't hold back any punches with her views of Hollywood, some skirmishes along the way as well as her relationship then and now with Scientology.  This is an emotional read but Remini balances the negativity with her sense of humour.  She's a funny, honest and above all, brave woman.


My Rating: 4/5 stars

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