Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology

Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology

A captivating guide through one woman's struggle to find herself through Scientology, and how she finally escapedIs there a term for a bad choice, one you continue to make, remaining on a path even as you understand your choice is not good for you? How do you abandon that life, and attempt to live a new one, making sense of the time you had given away so willingly? Flunk....

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Title:Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology
Author:Sands Hall
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Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology Reviews

  • Erika Dreifus

    It wasn't always easy to read this book, because I know and care about the author (although I knew nothing about this part of her life until she began sharing information about the book). But you needn't be a Sands fan to read it. An interest in learning about Scientology—and about what can cause any of us to make questionable choices—will suffice.

  • Len Joy

    This is an extraordinary, compelling memoir. I read it in one weekend, and I am not a binge reader. I even passed on the Academy Awards to read it. (Okay, for me that’s not a huge sacrifice, but still.)

    Ostensibly this is the story of the decade the author lost to Scientology. But it is really much more. It is a fascinating, heartbreaking family saga and in its own way, a coming of age tale. A spiritual journey, told with clear-eyed compassion and humor.

    Often takedowns of organizations by former

    This is an extraordinary, compelling memoir. I read it in one weekend, and I am not a binge reader. I even passed on the Academy Awards to read it. (Okay, for me that’s not a huge sacrifice, but still.)

    Ostensibly this is the story of the decade the author lost to Scientology. But it is really much more. It is a fascinating, heartbreaking family saga and in its own way, a coming of age tale. A spiritual journey, told with clear-eyed compassion and humor.

    Often takedowns of organizations by former members, have less impact because the story painted of the group is so awful that as a reader we are left wondering why or how the writer could have ever been drawn to the organization. But Hall’s memoir is far more damning because she is so judicious – identifying the aspects of Scientology that attracted her and kept her in its thrall for some long, even as her doubts grew.

    Hall is a wonderful writer and the skill with which she choreographs this complex story is extraordinary. Interweaving scenes of her bohemian family and especially her brilliant, beloved and doomed brother gives the story a propulsion that makes it difficult to put down (even for the Oscars.)

    Highly, highly recommended.

  • Jan M Flynn

    An engrossing, frank, and hypnotically structured account of the author's years-long immersion, only half-willing, into Scientology, FLUNK.START is much more than an exposé. Much has been written elsewhere about the more sensational horrors of Scientology as a mind-bending, life-eating cult. Hall writes of her experiences with deep honesty and acknowledgment of the so-called Church's methods of seducing, entangling, and ultimately hijacking the minds of the susceptible. But even more compelling

    An engrossing, frank, and hypnotically structured account of the author's years-long immersion, only half-willing, into Scientology, FLUNK.START is much more than an exposé. Much has been written elsewhere about the more sensational horrors of Scientology as a mind-bending, life-eating cult. Hall writes of her experiences with deep honesty and acknowledgment of the so-called Church's methods of seducing, entangling, and ultimately hijacking the minds of the susceptible. But even more compelling is her examination of what led her, as well as friends and lovers whom she portrays as intelligent, gifted, and principled, into its ever-deepening circles. This book is far from a screed; although she is clear (pardon the pun) about the negative, even evil aspects of Scientology, she also writes of its, for lack of a better word, charms: the beguiling structure, the engrossing study, especially the fervid examination of words. Hall's upbringing, in a family glittering with talent and intellectual achievement, her parents sophisticated, adventurous, and certain of their elevated tastes and attitudes, throws a shadow equal to its brilliance.That, along with a central tragedy involving a beloved older brother, contributes to an earnest, perilous kind of innocence in Hall that seems to set her up as an ideal if reluctant disciple of a "religion" she finds herself increasingly enmeshed within, even while tortured by doubt as well as grieved by the horrified reaction of her parents. As someone who has been bewildered by more than one dear friend's excursion into the murky depths of Scientology, I am deeply grateful to Hall for her balanced, brave memoir. Though vastly different in tone and subject, Flunk.Start. puts me in mind of Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle, for its captivating, can't-put-this-book-down structure.

  • Susan

    Wow what an excellent book. If you are looking for a book on Scientology that is shocking with lots of reveals and shocking details this is not the book for you. This is a book full of exploration and inner thoughts of a woman caught up in this cult. It’s very good.

  • Marika

    Author Sands Hall grew up in a literary family where intellect was valued, and language the currency. Her brother, Oakley Hall III was a brilliant playwright until a tragic fall from a bridge left him brain dead. The accident left her family shattered, with Sands feeling unmoored and craving stability. Rules and stability are the hallmark of Scientology, so it isn’t difficult to imagine her being pulled into the organization. Scientology gave Sands certainty in an uncertain world, until of cours

    Author Sands Hall grew up in a literary family where intellect was valued, and language the currency. Her brother, Oakley Hall III was a brilliant playwright until a tragic fall from a bridge left him brain dead. The accident left her family shattered, with Sands feeling unmoored and craving stability. Rules and stability are the hallmark of Scientology, so it isn’t difficult to imagine her being pulled into the organization. Scientology gave Sands certainty in an uncertain world, until of course, it didn't. An enlightening look into why people join cults and stay in them, even after they become aware that they are indeed, cults.

    I read an advance copy and was not compensated.

  • Dave

    Near the end, Hall tells a Scientologist friend that she's writing a memior about two cults: Scientology and the Halls, her literary family. For me, the second clan drew me in. Her father Oakley Hall wrote Warlock one the best Westerns ever.

    Sands' memior manages to find the good and bad in both. While Scientologists may blacklist or cut ties with her because she does critique, she makes Scientology seem slightly more reasonable. I understand why people get into it because it teaches life skills

    Near the end, Hall tells a Scientologist friend that she's writing a memior about two cults: Scientology and the Halls, her literary family. For me, the second clan drew me in. Her father Oakley Hall wrote Warlock one the best Westerns ever.

    Sands' memior manages to find the good and bad in both. While Scientologists may blacklist or cut ties with her because she does critique, she makes Scientology seem slightly more reasonable. I understand why people get into it because it teaches life skills called "the Tech".

    Sands relays some of those skills like closing the communication loop, looking to past events that cause problems in the present, and honesty. Scientology has "overts" which are sins. Treating people like you'd like to be treated is Kant's categorical imperative and Christ's golden rule. To do otherwise is a sin.

    One example Sands gives is if you do something wrong to someone and instead of apologizing for it you rationalize, now you don't like that person because you did something. This isn't religion just clear thinking. Same goes with attributing some accidents to prior bad acts or fears.

    Scientology also has a rigorous confession and penance system to compliment its sin and guilt.

    But Scientology goes to far when it insists everything happens because of something you did in the past, even in the womb or a previous life. Scientology is very self centered, there is no charity because poor people and Hurricane victims brought it on themselves. The initial courses are relatively cheap but the people who get into get bilked. with the advent of the internet, the veil of secrecy has led to more defections.

    Scientology is also big on getting at the real meaning of the word and its etymology. As a writer and reader this is basic stuff but too often people define words in context.

    Take religion. Religion is defined as a belief in a higher superhuman power. it's Latin root means to bind. Scientology meets the definition, but people don't see the trappings of older religions and define contextually.

    Scientology encourages creative types like actors, musicians, writers But Sands finds the problem first hand she can't write because instead of reading great texts, she's reading L Ron Hubbard - you write how you read.

    Sands walks away praising the basic tenants - "the Tech" - and slamming the organization. As a Catholic I can say welcome to organized religion.

    There is also a very touching story between Sands and her brother as well as her relationship her father.

    Come for the memior about one cult and stay for the other.

  • Debbie Boucher

    A lot has been written about Scientology. Sands Hall's memoir Flunk.Start helped me understand the mind of someone who is a seeker, who had questions every step of the way, yet persisted in using Scientology for her benefit and the benefit of others. I should disclose that I went to high school with Hall, and she has been a mentor and teacher to me. I knew she had been a Scientologist and that she had regrets about it, so I read this memoir with great interest. The only reason I didn't give it f

    A lot has been written about Scientology. Sands Hall's memoir Flunk.Start helped me understand the mind of someone who is a seeker, who had questions every step of the way, yet persisted in using Scientology for her benefit and the benefit of others. I should disclose that I went to high school with Hall, and she has been a mentor and teacher to me. I knew she had been a Scientologist and that she had regrets about it, so I read this memoir with great interest. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is that I'm not sure the book will appeal to everyone. However, if you are interested in how a smart, well educated woman got involved with what many considered then (and still consider now) a cult, then I highly recommend this book. The author is brave to bare her soul the way she does. It is funny and poignant, always a good combination, but it is also at times painful.

  • Peacegal

    The subject of cults is a fascinating one. Extreme religious groups tend to get their hooks into people at points in their lives in which they are most vulnerable, such as a major life upheaval or tragedy. Sands Hall writes of her own experience in Scientology and the reasons she, with much difficulty, decided to leave it.

    The author has certainly lived an unusual life and has quite a story to tell. Scientology has its own vocabulary, and I will admit to becoming tired of all of the jargon and a

    The subject of cults is a fascinating one. Extreme religious groups tend to get their hooks into people at points in their lives in which they are most vulnerable, such as a major life upheaval or tragedy. Sands Hall writes of her own experience in Scientology and the reasons she, with much difficulty, decided to leave it.

    The author has certainly lived an unusual life and has quite a story to tell. Scientology has its own vocabulary, and I will admit to becoming tired of all of the jargon and acronyms. Nevertheless, FLUNK, START is a valuable contribution to the discussion of cults and an amazing story.

  • Renata

    I've read a lot about Scientology (maybe...too much about Scientology?) but this is the first thing I've read that made me understand how a basically #normal person might become a Scientologist. Also it's beautifully written and expresses a lot of very #relatable #ennui . I'd recommend it to anyone who feels vaguely adrift in life even if they aren't extremely interested in Scientology.

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