In Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape Jenna Miscavige Hill opens up about being raised in Scientology and why she decided to leave. Jenna considered her childhood to be normal because she had no basis for comparison. She was born into Scientology and raised in a boarding school away from her parents (they were busy working for the greater good). At the school (which they called the ranch), she had to do physical labor when she wasn't studying. They were always cleaning up the ranch and making improvements on the buildings, demanding work that elementary school aged children should never be forced to do. The 'schooling' they had was focused on prepping them to work for Scientology instead of an actual education. They were kept on strict schedules and she was always exhausted, yet she heard she was at one of the better schools. Her parents visited when they could, which was rare because she lived in California and they lived in Florida.
It's easy to follow Jenna's story because in Beyond Belief, Jenna explains the basic teachings of Scientology, the terminology they use, how they get new members to join (and donate hefty amounts of money), and how they control the actions of so many people who blindly follow along as they try to reach the higher enlightenment.
Jenna had small rebellions in her early teenage years, but always came back to follow the teachings of Scientology because it is what she was raised to believe. As the niece of David Miscavige, the current leader of Scientology, Jenna made it through the ranks easily to become a member of the Sea Org (one of the highest ranking groups). The rules for Sea Org members were strict (such as, for a while they were not allowed to have children because children took up time they could spend working) but being in the Sea Org was such an honor that Jenna was proud.
As members of her family start breaking away from Scientology, Jenna stays mostly due to her naivety. She follows the strict rules about dating, curfews, and who she can socialize with - all these things leave her feeling isolated.
It isn't until she is 21 that she starts asking some of her questions out loud. By this time, both her parents have left the Church and she isn't allowed to have contact with them. She begins to notice the control that the entire organization has over her, especially her uncle since he is the leader. One issue that she is struggling with is that she wants to marry her boyfriend, Dallas, but the Church is constantly delaying the marriage process (which should be straightforward and simple). Her decision to leave came after many years of questioning Scientology (only in her head, never out loud). Actually leaving was much harder than Jenna ever thought.
Once out of the Church, Jenna wanted to live a simple life with her husband and try to move on. But she couldn't stay quiet and knew she had some power to get attention as the niece of the leader. So she began speaking out, sharing the details of her life. As the niece of the current leader, Jenna knows what she says about the Church will get attention.
Beyond Belief is written so that anyone without prior knowledge of Scientology will still understand the horrors of what Jenna went through. It is an interesting book if you are interested in Scientology, or religion or cults in general.