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Picks and Pans Review: My Life in Orange

updated 02/21/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Tim Guest
CRITIC'S CHOICE

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Tim Guest was 4 years old in 1979 when his mother became a follower of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose acolytes wore clothing in the colors of the sunset and adopted Sanskrit names. Guest's memoir, My Life in Orange, maps the odyssey that led him and his mother from England to communes in India, Oregon and Germany—and finally back home. As some parents searched for enlightenment through ecstatic dancing, sexual freedom and group rituals that occasionally involved violence and abuse, Tim and other commune children suffered from neglect. Only when the Rajneesh movement fell apart amid charges involving embezzlement and conspiracy to commit murder did Guest's mother come to understand the damage that she'd done to her son and begin the painful process of reconciliation. Guest's compelling book is remarkably evenhanded, amusing, forgiving and wise as it charts the terrible shortsightedness and foolishness that can occur in the name of higher understanding.

MEMOIR

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