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Summary

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 20th century's most notorious criminals and life as one of his "girls".

At age 14, 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.

©2017 Dianne Lake (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Polly Poizendem
  • 18-11-17

Dianne sets the record straight . . . Finally.


I found it interesting hearing what life was like for Dianne (Snake) growing up as a young hippie child in the 60s, but the part that drew me in the MOST, were the events after she joined The Family. I found myself hating to break away from the story (to do something else), and would often say - okay, just FIVE more minutes. Did that a lot. Lol.

There were MANY surprising little details that I never knew about, and over the years were wrongly attributed to Manson himself - or to others as having said or done. For me, THAT made it all worthwhile. It was great to finally hear something NEW in this case, and not simply the same old rehashing of events, but REAL everyday life at the ranch, and then some! Wow. Very pleased that I gave this one a shot.

I thought Dianne did a pretty decent job with the narration ... and in THIS instance, I WOULD rather listen to it straight from the horses mouth so to speak, than have some sing-songy storytime lady voice. If reading about the Manson case intrigues you, then this is a must-get. Some good juicy stuff in here :)

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Jen
  • 25-11-17

Riveting Story

The book begins a bit slowly, but the background info Dianne Lake gives is an integral part of her story. Once she gets into her tale of life with Charlie and the girls, it is fascinating in a train wreck kind of way; hard to listen but harder to turn away. As mother of a teen who is about the age she was when she joined the Family, it's horrifying to hear how her parents allowed this to happen. I applaud the author's courage and honesty in revealing her story. I give the performance only three stars as her reading is generally monotone even when describing the most disturbing experiences but I believe this is common for people who have dissociated themselves from a trauma. Highly recommended for anyone interested in 60s counter culture

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria Beebe
  • 17-11-17

Fantastic story.

I always wonder what happened to the others. This is a great account of life before the Family, especially how she came to be a member. Its a great account also of life inside the Family from an actual member. She was not a killer but was very close to those who were. Its also a great telling of how she came out the other side. Narration was ok. She is not a professional obviously but I appreciated her personal telling. I thought it might have been a bit cathartic for her. What's great about her story is that she had nothing to gain and quite a lot to lose. I think it is very brave for her to tell her story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jessica R. Arntson
  • 03-11-17

Great Story

I just finished re-reading Helter Skelter and was looking for another book about the Family and Manson. This is a great story. The author also narrated the book. She was a bit shaky and at first, I thought it was going to be rough listening to her through the whole book, but as it went on, it was easy. I appreciated her story and grew to love her by the end. The story left me in tears. It's terrible that she was so young when she went through all of this, but I think that because she was so young, she wasn't so far lost that she couldn't come back. Great story. Great book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-12-17

not quite what I had hoped.

I found too much of the book was pre Manson era and it took a long time before she actually met him.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrea C.
  • 13-11-17

Not great to listen to...

I’m a few chapters in on audible and I’m not thrilled by the narration. I️ understand it’s her story, but she’s just not the right person to narrate.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-10-17

A must read for anyone interested in The Manson Family.

There are so many books about the Manson Family, but this insider’s perspective is truly unique.
It is clearly written. The author does the narration herself (something that I always appreciate). And you get a first hand glimpse at how someone could get wrapped up in all of this Charles Manson craziness.
Additionally- the author dispels incorrect information repeated in almost every book about this subject. A truly fascinating audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Courtney Mitchell
  • 24-12-17

Here are all the interesting details and nuances of what life with the Manson family was really like...

Dianne’s story, and her way of telling it, was so sincere and captivating. I’m sure I’ll listen to this one again, but I am jealous of anyone who has yet to experience “Member of the Family” for the first time. I’m sure it would be a great read as well, but I think you’re missing out if you don’t listen to the Dianne reading her own (unbelievable!) story first hand.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • LaHenson
  • 18-11-17

Excellent!

I thoroughly enjoyed this honest, heartfelt recounting of the traumatic events of this young person and her struggle find her place in her world after being exposed to so many bad influences by the very adults who were charged with the responsibility of protecting her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • G Bartel
  • 17-08-18

Excellent book

I'm so extremely sorry for all the trials and tribulations that Dianne Lake went through in her childhood.
She is an excellent author, and and wonderful narrator as well. You can hear the emotions that she feels in every word of this book.
I'm also extremely happy that she seems to have found a wonderful life for herself.

She will never be at fault here, but she knows the story first hand, and can tell it better than anyone.