First-Hand Accounts of Living in and Leaving Religious Communities. Suggested for fans of Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman (or while you are waiting to read it).
All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen (Hasidic Judaism)
Deen lives a duplicitous life as a devout husband and father of five in an insular Hasidic sect while secretly exploring the outside world through radio, library books, and eventually the Internet.
Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain (Westboro Baptist)
Thrust into the Westboro Baptist church by her father at age 15, Drain adopts the church’s tenets and actively pickets with the group’s famous anti-everyone slogans. Seven years later she begins to question the beliefs and finds herself cast out of the church and separated from her family.
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill (Scientology)
An insider account of the rituals and mysterious leader, the author’s uncle, of the oppressive, secretive Scientology culture. At age 21, Miscavige Hill makes a harrowing escape.
Escape by Carolyn Jessop (FLDS - Mormon)
Jessop describes growing up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and her dramatic escape with all 8 of her children from a plural marriage to a man 32-years her senior.
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Islam)
The coming-of-age story of a devout Muslim girl who turns away from the Muslim Brotherhood, flees a forced marriage and finds asylum and a new life in Europe fighting for the rights of Muslim women.
Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love by Michelle LeClair (Scientology)
A former Scientology leader comes to terms with her sexual orientation, extricates herself from a painful marriage and leaves the church but not before her reputation is assaulted, a custody battle, and the destruction of the multi-million dollar business she built.
Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall (FLDS - Mormon)
The inspiring story of a young woman raised in the restrictive FLDS church and was forced to marry at age 14. Secretly befriending a former FLDS member enables her to break free and begin life anew on the outside.
Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life & Finally Came Home by Leah Lax (Hasidic Judaism)
She could have become a hippy in college but was instead drawn to the stability of Orthodox Judaism during the wild ‘60s. While married and raising children, Lax begins a secret life as a gay woman.
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-Roper (Westboro Baptist)
Raised in the church founded by her grandfather, Phelps-Roper is an impassioned defender, becoming the group’s social media guru. When she engages in a Twitter exchange with a skillful interlocutor, her beliefs begin to falter and must decide whether to honor herself or stay with the only family she knew.
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman (Hasidic Judaism)
Raised in the strict Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, and forced to marry a man she barely knew, Feldman finds herself isolated and longing for the freedom she glimpsed in library books she read in secret. Granted permission to attend college in Manhattan, Feldman experiences the outside world but faces the challenge of divorce and leaving the community with her baby.
The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser (FLDS - Mormon)
As a teenager, Musser became the 19th wife of the 85-year-old FLDS prophet. After his death, she makes a daring escape from his son, returning only to testify to the abuse she endured and witnessed for years.