cover image Seeking Oz: My Twelve-Year Journey in a Cult

Seeking Oz: My Twelve-Year Journey in a Cult

Makena McChesney. Balboa, $18.99 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-1-9822-0619-2

Following her flight from a cult, McChesney, now 71, recounts the torment of her captivity in this tense but uneven memoir. She writes of growing up in a strict family and attending a “fear-based, shame-based” Pentecostal church in an unnamed rural community in the U.S., where she was reluctant to question authority. As a directionless 31-year-old in 1978 with two young children and an abusive alcoholic husband, she was drawn to a welcoming, fundamentalist group she refers to as the Fellowship. She left her husband and, with her two sons, moved to a Fellowship colony. The cult, under a charismatic leader she calls Bud, controlled every facet of her life: she was expected to teach classes to the members’ children, to clean and take care of rental houses of new members, and to take in and educate new members. It took years until she finally understood that cults are made up of “those who desired to control and those who allowed it,” and she realized that she needed to, and could, control her own life. She left the cult with her teenage children in 1990, choosing no longer “to give away her power to be loved.” The narrative can feel muddled at times, as she hesitates describing the cult members and the cult itself in detail. Ultimately, however, McChesney’s story is as uplifting as it is encouraging. (BookLife)