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Renee Linnell comes to Flyleaf Books to tell seven years being brainwashed in a cult


Renee Linnell will come to Flyleaf to discuss her memoir about being brainwashed in a cult for seven years. Photo courtesy of Javier Perez. 

Seven years after Renee Linnell lost numerous people she loved and sought solitude through a Buddhist spiritual teacher, she discovered she had joined a cult and was severely brainwashed.

Flyleaf bookstore is hosting Linnell to discuss her recent memoir, “The Burn Zone,” on Monday at 7 p.m. Linnell’s intent through this book was to heal by writing her story, but also to help others heal and show people they are not alone in their experiences.

“The book started as a catharsis and I was just journaling to get the story out of me so I could heal and then the more I wrote the better I felt, and the better I felt the less shame I had around telling people close to me what had happened,” Linnell said. “And as I started to tell them what had happened, they all had the same reaction. Like 'Oh my god, you have got to write a book,' and I realized I had been writing a book.” 

Linnell said she looks forward to her discussion at Flyleaf because she sees independent bookstores as a place for misfits. Linnell said all people are misfits in their own ways, and Flyleaf allows a place for everyone to come together. Her time will be spent discussing with the audience the themes of the memoir and how there are differences in different people's destinies.

“Linnell’s ability to embrace her whole self, imperfections and all, is a great teacher for all of us," Meredith Rom, author of "Just Be: A Search for Self-Love in India" said, as quoted on the Flyleaf website. "THAT is true self-love, a beautiful permission slip to embrace our own imperfections.”

Linnell develops bonds with her readers and feels as though this book tour has helped her heal and embrace the traumatic events that happened to her. 

“I have this vision of listeners and readers blooming in a certain way," Linnell said. “Like the spark inside that has been turned down suddenly reigniting with this knowledge that yes, they are OK the way they are. And yes, everything that happened to them actually happened for them. And yes, all the weirdness and quirkiness and not fitting in is actually perfect and right.” 

The event will include Linnell reading from her book, discussing her experience with the audience and taking questions anyone may have. The event will conclude with her signing books for readers. Flyleaf has been planning the event since December after Linnell’s publicist pitched the idea. 

“I think that Renee’s story  — I mean, she kind of was the person who was really successful and, you know, had a lot of things to show for her life, and I think that even when you have those things you can still feel lost,” Amanda Ibarra, the events manager at Flyleaf Bookstore, said. “And so I think it’s a really interesting story and I think that there’s a lot that we can apply to our own lives about where we search for things.”