Friday, January 22, 2016

5 Stars - Troublemaker by Leah Remini

Publisher: Random House
Autobiography
Buy: AMZ

About the Book

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.

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I read Going Clear and saw the documentary. Both are chilling in terms of their frankness and you learn so much about Scientology from people who gave most of their lives to it. You get peripheral information on the big names involved, though, which is why I wanted to read Leah's book. She came into the "church" via her mother, who went in via her second husband. What you get in Troublemaker is not an involved Hollywood memoir that delves deep into Leah's career - she talks about it, but her acting is the backdrop. This is an account of Scientology told from a celebrity POV, somebody this organization would normally revere for their status (and money), and it left me with my mouth open in a WTF right to the end.

I watched Leah on "The King of Queens" and I remember hearing she was a Scientologist and asking myself, "Wha? How'd she get roped into that?" Reading her book helped me to understand how Scientology appealed to her in her youth, and how it drained her of money for decades and did her few favors. It took four simple words out her mouth ("Where is Shelly Miscavige?") to destroy her standing and consequently crush her faith. Leah prides herself on being a troublemaker, a big mouth, and a badass, and it's interesting that one moment where she showed concern for a friend got her into big trouble.

I enjoyed this book - it's blunt and engaging and emotional. You're going to read things here that will piss you off. I leave it with the hope that Leah will find closure by finding out the truth about Shelly.

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