Member of the Family ~ by Dianne Lake

I don’t usually enjoy books narrated by the author unless they’ve been professionally trained in some way. This book is an exception because the voice of Dianne Lake makes the feel of the story even more authentic and it is True Crime told in the first person by someone who lived it.  Lake was the youngest member of the infamous Manson family and although she was with her parents until age 14 ,  after that she wandered, landing in a black van with Charlie Manson and his girls,   She wasn’t a participant in the Tate-La Bianca murders or any others and because she cooperated with the police the charges against her were dropped.  She had to be a major witness though, as was Linda Kasabian who was with Manson for a shorter time.      

Member of the Family:  
My Story of Charles Manson, 
Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties
By Dianne Lake – 2017 
Read by the author 12h 11m 
Rating: 8.75 / memoir – crime 

The narrative is nice but Lane gives hearty thanks to her “partner” buddy” (which I take to be a kind of ghost writer) as well as to her therapists. (Excellent point – I suspect she needed/needs a lot!

The writing –  I almost never mention specific metaphors, but there’s one here which certainly deserves mention;  Fitting in with the group of girls in the “family” was  “,,,like a raindrop joining a puddle, that’s how at home I felt.” 

There’s a nice but common sense story arc and the character descriptions are well done, even the point of view which is intentionally all her own, has the perfect pitch. The narrator (Lake herself) sounds inexperienced and like the real author would feel.  It took awhile but I got used to it and it worked wonderfully well.

And it’s not a happy book at all. Dianne is alone and on her own at the age of 14. Her parents have essentially abandoned her to her own devices. So Manson and his girls, living a bus in the area,  provided a circle of love for her. They knew she was way too.young to be with them,  but she needed them  Her parents actually didn’t want her around anymore – at this age. The Hog Farm couldn’t keep her because of the legal liability.  Dianna Lake was on her own in LA and in some ways lucky to have had any new family take her in. But this one turned out to be treacherous.

She fortunately was not expected to be part of the executions. She was understood by Charlie and the other, to be too young for that. She did partake of all the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll as well as being traded to older men for favors, cooking and housework as well as caring for the babies Again, she was 14 and believed the note her parents had signed gave her the legal right to be on her own. (It didn’t.).

She ended up in her own trouble, though and paid dearly. The book is great – I got a background knowledge without the details. I got life in the family without the horror. Dianne found out of course, and she ended up as an extremely important witness which was very scary in itself. Dianne was lonely for a home – she yearned to be wanted and loved. Charles Manson was a multifaceted con artist who knew how to be what lonely girls wanted. Disgusting.

In its own way this book prepared me for reading Helter Skelter and maybe other books about these events. I needed a refresher because although I was 20-22 at the time and lived in California, I only paid attention to what was on the news. I really didn’t want to read about Manson et al because it was soooo violent and heavily sensationalized. (In my view, Charles Manson and company were NOT hippies they were vicious scumbags and criminal crazies with no right to being associated with the peaceful hippies I knew and loved.)

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1 Response to Member of the Family ~ by Dianne Lake

  1. Pingback: Helter Skelter ~ by Vincent Burliest | Becky's Books –

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