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Reviewed by Molly Garcia for Readers' Favorite
Bound by Belief looks into the intricate background of how cults work. Raphael Aron introduces the book with an explanation of cults, how they work, and real-life examples. The story revolves around an organization called CultAssist which is managed by Laura, the main character. Raphael entwines five dramatic cases that Laura is working on. A father whose daughter, Emma, has made an untrue accusation of sexual abuse against him. A young Lebanese man from a close-knit family has vanished, and Rochelle’s husband, Graham, a man who is struggling to cope with his daughter Penny’s cerebral palsy, is pulled into a cult. Ted, a high-profile Telco CEO is forced to find the means by which to rescue his wife and son from the clutches of a cult in India. In addition, Laura is increasingly concerned for a young woman they rescued before, Anne. Since Anne disappeared, CultAssist has been receiving legal threats from the cult’s “mainstream” arm, and Laura thinks the two incidents are linked.
Raphael Aron writes this book from the perspective of someone who has a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Bound by Belief is fiction; however, its characters are created from reality. This gave me the opportunity to learn at the same time while enjoying the story and plot. The author cleverly wrapped all the cases together in a format that drew me in. Each case is explored in fascinating detail, like the way Graham feels about his daughter’s disability, and how he slowly detaches himself from his wife. As someone who has worked in mental health, I found it particularly interesting how these cults prey on the vulnerable. The techniques they use to recruit and then isolate the people who join up were terrifying in their effectiveness. In one case, they use Anne’s eating disorder and the offer of healing her to pull her to them. The author describes these so expertly and yet also so vividly. I loved this book on more than one level; first the clever plotlines and evolving cases, and second, the realism and knowledge it shared. This book is highly recommended for readers who want to learn as they read and have an interest in the backdrop of cults.