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Member of the Family

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

My Story of Charles Manson, Life inside his Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties

Authored by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman

Warning: Descriptions of physical and sexual abuse

FTC Rating: 4 out of 5

As a teenager, I was fascinated and terrified by the book “Helter Skelter” authored by Manson Family prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi. I recall studying the glossy photos and wondering, how one man could convince a group of individuals to perpetrate such random, horrific murders? This question brought me to Dianne Lake’s memoire recalling her teenage years spent as a member of the infamous Family and her second-hand knowledge of these horrible crimes. However, what ultimately captivated me was the heartfelt story of a young girl trying to find love, acceptance, support, and her place in a chaotic world.


-Interesting insight into the California music and hippie scene of the 1960s

-Discusses other communes and “cults” encountered by Dianne through her relationships with the Family and/or her biological parents

-Provides a first-hand account of Manson’s character and the interpersonal relationships within the Family.

-Dives into the famous Beach Boys connection and the significance of the White Album for Charles Manson

-A deeply personal coming of age story which does not shy away from the good or the bad


-The chapter on Dianne’s testimony is quite short. I was keen to learn more about her role in the trial.

Final Thoughts:

-Sadly, I do not think Dianne fully forgave herself for remaining with the Family and ignoring the red flags. She often refers to situations where she “should have known better” but a fourteen-year-old child cannot be held to the same standard as an adult, especially when under the control of a highly manipulative leader. I hope sharing her story brought Dianne some closure and piece of mind.

-For those curious, here is a link to the Beach Boy’s song “Never Learn Not to Love” referenced in this book, which is an altered version of “Cease to Exist” written by Charles Manson:

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