By: Dianne Lake & Deborah Herman
In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”
“[A] disturbing, courageous memoir…. This is a moving, intense insider’s view of the cult of Manson.”—Publishers Weekly
In late 1967, fourteen-year-old Dianne Lake became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson and member of his Family. Joining the group with little more than an old note from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them, the two years that followed were a mixture of sexual manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse, as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed themselves to the impressionable teenager. Though Dianne never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes, as one of its longest members, she lived through it all, becoming a crucial eyewitness to the Family’s descent into madness and ultimately providing critical testimony against Manson and his collaborators that helped put them behind bars—for life.
Now Dianne shares the full story of her time with Manson, revealing how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals. For the first time, Dianne opens up about her life in the Family, showing how the free-love ethos of the era enabled the charismatic and calculating Manson to take advantage of young women, often to devastating ends. Drawing upon never-before-told stories, Dianne delivers an inside account of how Manson’s paranoid volatility grew over time, culminating in the final chaotic months before the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders brought the idealism of the 1960s to a stunning conclusion.
In spite of her painful experiences, Dianne was one of the few to emerge stronger from the torment of the Family and transform her trauma into triumph, finding the courage to face Manson in court and achieving a redemption that allowed her to heal.