Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties
Author: Dianne Lake
Published: October 14, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”
At age fourteen Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.
Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.
While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.
I think this might be the end of my true crime obsession for a little while. People really are horrible and stupid. Ok, let me go back to the beginning. I decided to listen to this audiobook narrated by Dianne Lake herself. I have read Helter Skelter several times and I wanted to learn more about the family itself and the people in it. This book gave great info in a far more personal way. It’s easy to look in from the outside and criticize and judge, but when you get a glimpse of the realities, that definitely changes.
It’s also an interesting view into hippy culture. The 60s were a very different time and the things that people got away with then would seriously ruin their lives if they tried it today. Who lets their 14 year old daughter just up and go to a completely different city with someone she just met?? I mean Lake’s parents literally pushed her at Charlie Manson even though they knew something was off about him. I put my head down on the steering wheel and just tried to breathe out my frustration. I also learned a lot more about Charlie and his manipulative ways. Of course those girls followed him and loved him unconditionally. He gave them what no one else in the world did, love and acceptance. And he played them like a Hawaiian on a ukulele! I could go on and on about this book, but I’ll just encourage everyone to read it! Very informative and disturbing!