Flunk. Start.
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. Start. is a candid, revealing memoir of what drew author, actress, and musician Sands Hall to Scientology, how she left the Church after nearly a decade, and how she has finally come to terms with those years that she had previously thought of as lost. Hall is a captivating guide, describing her slow absorption into the Church, but Flunk. Start. is more than a recounting of her time in Scientology—it’s also about growing up in an eccentric literary family, and the tale of her brilliant, tragic older brother, the playwright Oakley Hall III. It’s a story of navigating relationships—spiritual and familial—and how her desire to know has shaped Hall's life. In Flunk.Start., Hall is able to resolve rather than expose; to explore rather than condemn. She does so in a gorgeous narrative with a visceral affection for the comforting, beguiling power of words.

Flunk. Start. Details

TitleFlunk. Start.
Author
ReleaseMar 1st, 2018
PublisherCounterpoint
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Biography

Flunk. Start. Review

  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Debbie Boucher
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Erika Dreifus
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Len Joy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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