"Troublemaker" by Leah Remini

Leah Remini is known for being outspoken.  The actress, talk show host, and reality television star has always said what was on her mind and has never held back.  And she is no different in her book as she shares the story of her life and gives a behind the headlines look at her very public split with the Church of Scientology.

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, by Leah Remini, is a raw, honest, and eye-opening memoir of what life is like within Scientology.

I have always been a fan of Remini’s.  I remember her as Charlie Briscoe first on Who’s the Boss and then Living Dolls as well as Stacy Kerosi on Saved by the Bell and even as a kid I remember being in awe of her.  I absolutely love her on King of Queens and tuned into The Talk to watch her.  But I never paid much attention to her personal life and Scientology is something that I’ve never really cared to hear about.  But when Leah left the church, I started to pay attention to what she had to say.  I figured if anyone was going to tell you the true story, the stuff that no one wants you to hear, it would be her.

Leah joined the church at the age of 13 when her mother began attending it in New York.  They eventually moved to Florida to be a part of the Sea Org and then on to Los Angeles, where Leah decided to become an actress.  It was here that she really became dedicated to the church, taking her place among Scientology’s elite like Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, and Tom Cruise.

Remini and her husband spent some time with Cruise and was invited to his wedding to Katie Holmes.  But it was at the wedding, that she began to question some actions of the church, things that seemed to go above and beyond what was expected by the religion.  Her actions resulted in disciplinary measures by the church.  And as she began to question more and more the integrity of those around her, she realized that for the good of her family, she needed to leave.  She was declared a Suppressive Person and members, including her family, were told to never have contact with her again.

Leah’s split from the church was pretty public but there is a lot of information that we didn’t hear at the time that she is now talking about.  This book is a fantastic insiders account about what really goes on in the church.  She covers the Sea Org (which is pretty much kids doing slave labour), how the church punishes people who don’t follow the rules, and how people go broke and into debt trying to pay for courses at the church.  She talks about how the “higher-ups” of the church seem to operate by their own standards and how things like infidelity and threatening behaviour seem to be par for the course.

There is a lot in this book that I did not know about, especially the stuff about Tom Cruise.  I’m surprised that Leah doesn’t mention John Travolta given that he is a high profile member and there are many stories that are in the media about him.  Tom, along with the head of the church David Miscavige, seem to be her problem.  The stories surrounding Tom’s wedding to Katie, as well as a relationship he had before her, were pretty shocking.

I do wish that she had spoken more about the beliefs of the church.  They can be pretty secret about the different courses and levels and what exactly the church teaches.  I would have liked to hear her input about that.  She is very honest about how people do get taken in by the church and why they stay. I liked how she pointed out the tactics that the church uses, not only to make people stay but to make themselves look better to the rest of the world.

I picked this book up early one morning just after waking and did not get out of bed until I was finished it.  I absolutely could not put it down.  The honesty and candour that Leah is known for jumps right off the page.  And this is a story that is so addictive.  Kudos to Leah for writing this book and for not letting the church silence her the way they have tried to do to so many other people.


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