Member of the Family | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019  

Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman

Member of the Family

Published by William Morrow

Nov 22, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

From the ages of 14 to 16, Dianne Lake was a member of Charles Manson's cult. After a messy childhood that included several moves and parents who turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, Lake, effectively emancipated, became one of Manson's girls and in turn found family. With Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties, Lake tells her incredibly personal story from out of place child to teenager enrapt with this twisted "guru," including with it all of the horrors that would inevitably follow.

Member of the Family is a gripping tale. Lake describes in detail her early life that led to her joining Manson's group. She digs deep into the feelings of abandonment at home that led her to find family with Manson. Her time in the cult is detailed from an insider's perspective, from the almost idyllic beginning to the horrific end. She details both the love and acceptance she felt upon falling in with the "family" to the all manner of mind control, drug use, sexual abuse, and physical abuse she endured as Manson's clan grew. Lake describes her time living at Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's home, and how Manson's musical ambition seemed to grow from then on. Lake wasn't present for the murders; she was part of the family at the time but in hiding when the vicious events occurred. She heard tale from the perpetrators and eventually testified against Manson in court.

Through her memoir, one gets a clear picture of Manson's personality, at least from Lake's perspective. Importantly, Lake pulls no punches. The emotional turmoil she must have felt digging through these emotions had to have been gut-wrenching. Reading through her narrative gives one the sense of being there with her. Member of the Family is as entrancing a narrative of Manson's cult as one will read. Gratitude to should go to Lake for having the courage to share her story and shed light on such a dark period in America's history. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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August 27th 2018

Thank you for your review on the book.
Your review inspired me to read the whole story. Thank you!