“I told you mothers do not matter here. We are all your mothers. Isn’t that better than just having one?”
An ordinary weekend becomes surreal when Celena’s mother, whom she has not seen for years, returns to claim her. Told that she is going to visit a place called Synanon, six-year-old Celena leaves her native Los Angeles on a bus for a secluded ranch setting in Northern California where the residents are strangely bald and dressed uniformly in overalls.
Coming to realize this eerie institution is to be her new home, Celena is ultimately forced to develop a new strength of being to protect herself against the abusive school demonstrators, the troubled children, and the chilling thought that she and her mother might never leave.
C.A. Wittman’s daring memoir is a coming-of-age story about growing up in a cult, the unconditional love between a mother and daughter, and how that love helped a young girl to grow and flourish against the odds of her distorted childhood.