BLINDED BY THE LIGHT by Robin F. Brancato


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Catchy title and timely topic aside, Brancato delivers a temperate but unilluminating look at fanatic religious cults, here the ""Light of the World,"" which has claimed Gail Brower's older brother Jim as one of its most rabid followers. Caught somewhere in between the no-holds-barred desperation of her parents, who have hired a ""rescuer"" to get back their son, and the easy objectivity of her college roommate, who insists that everyone has ""the right to choose not to be free,"" Gaff tries to track down her brother; first at a country retreat, where she spends a weekend with a blissed-out bunch of LOWs, and finally at a mass rally at Philadelphia, where Jim proposes a trade-off--a day of Gail's at the LOW hotel for a day of his at home. Brancato's contention that just 24 hours of little sleep and less food could turn someone as level-headed as Gail into a mind-blown zombie ready to sign herself away to ""Father Adam"" is as hard to swallow as the see-through propaganda pounded into all the LOW acolytes. Moreover, in the absence of a convincing plot (this culminates in Gail's melodramatic eleventh-hour rescue by her boyfriend), one at least expects an inside peek into this type of religious movement. Yet no real light is shed on the insidious seductiveness of the LOWs (they are pictured as a kind of misdirected, overaged scout troop), so that ultimately we come no closer to understanding these cults than we do by watching Moonies at work on the street.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Knopf