“Yolande’s writing was penetrating, artful, intelligent, delicate, and engaging; her story was gripping. I have had many students over the years and few stand out for both their talent and their dedication; Yolande is one of those few… She is that rare case of someone who is both gifted and dedicated.”

 — Susan Orlean, bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief


“In Holy Candy, Yolande Brener achieves what all memoirs strive for: to reveal strange worlds with mesmerizing insight and lyricism, and to locate the known within them. We may not all have been seduced by cults, but we have all craved the sweet and transcendent. Brener’s book offers the mirror of true memoir: a portal through which we find ourselves.”

— Melissa Febos, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Whip Smart


“Get ready for an adventure like no other. Though wildly provocative, Holy Candy is also immediately identifiable due to Yolande Brener’s honest, graceful narration. This is a beautiful memoir, compelling in every way.”

— Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of Around the Bloc


“This is a rare insight into the mystery of how persuasive a cult can be, and what it’s actually like to be on the inside. It’s also an incredibly beautifully written account. I loved it.”

— Danielle Minns, author of Crack


“Brener’s memoir recounts with great honesty the desperate idealism that led her to join Moon’s Unification Church at a time when the group was about to be torn apart by internal scandals, some of which she witnessed herself. I was also a member of Moon’s cult, but I left that group in 1986. Brener joined in 1990 and witnessed the cult as it was transformed from a group that required its members to go for years without having relations with the opposite sex, because only by so doing could one be cleansed of Original Sin, to a group that believed that a person could be unknowingly “Blessed” merely by eating a candy proffered by a church member. Brener also witnessed the mercurial eldest son of Sun Myung Moon, Hyo Jin, in action, just as his womanizing and drug use (all completely contrary to Moon’s teachings) were about to be exposed by his former wife, Nansook Hong. Through all of these remarkable changes, Brener gives an honest account of her own earnest desire to change the world and save her schizophrenic brother, and how this led her into a loveless marriage and a sojourn in Ecuador. When, finally, she finds her way out again, it is with a complex understanding of how sad it was to dream such a fine dream and to see it crumble away. I also once felt this way, when I remembered the Ideal World I had once dreamed I was creating (but which Moon was incapable of bringing into being). Fortunately, Brener finds her way out again, with wisdom and without bitterness.”

— Gordon Neufeld, author of Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon


“Yolande takes us along with her on a very personal journey deep inside the mystery of her own heart. She boldly retraces her steps into the controversial world of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Movement. With the promise of meeting the living divinity and healing the broken world, Yolande dives heart first into a non-traditional faith that nearly drowns her. We are fortunate that she resurfaces to tell her story.”

— Owen Callahan


“I couldn’t put this book down from start to finish. I wanted to maintain my connection with Yolande through all of her identities, ordeals and associated thought processes. I also wanted to get to the end to see how Yolande concludes the story in the hope I might see my own conclusion - but, rightly so, I know there is more to come. That is life. But I felt hope at the end as Yolande clearly explained the breakthroughs she made that are going to set off the next stage of her story. Through this book I came to understand myself more and stop beating myself up because of all the mental ups and downs and anguish I go through having left the same group Yolande did. It was actually exciting to read about events I also attended and to find someone else was going through the same mental conflict as me at the time. If only I’d known, the path might have been less lonely. I don’t feel alone anymore and I feel hope. Yolande’s writing style is just beautiful. So descriptive and emotive - I truly hope she keeps writing as she has a gift. And I hope that people like Yolande and I can find the love we’ve been looking for, and inner peace. I appreciate that this book, while clearly exposing the mental processes people go through in idealistic closed religions, or in fact any group where you are encouraged to believe it is THE ONLY TRUTH, thereby limiting your exposure to other ideas that could erode the group’s belief stronghold, Yolande does still see the positives gained on her path. while letting go of the crap. This book is an enlightening expose of the power of the human mind and also the weakness of the human mind. Plus the power of the human spirit and soul to constantly strive for freedom and evolution. It will truly get you thinking about where your beliefs and values come from and if it is time for a mental overhaul.”

— Wendy M.


“A beautifully written memoir , intimate and fearless , probing one woman’s search for understanding , purpose and love . This journey takes you deep within the inner confines of the exclusive and all consuming domain of absolutist religion . As in any good story , the reader is transported and lives through the author’s experience as she navigates her way through an alien maze , all the while maintaining humour , candour and insight . A testament to both the vulnerability and resilience that is the human soul .”

— Amazon reviewer, John


“I’m just half way through the book and I can’t put it down. Yolande, was in deep. A cult within the cult. I find myself literally laughing out loud at the way she describes some of her experiences and her thought process. Perhaps because I had some of those same thoughts and experiences. It’s funny now looking from the outside in that we ever believed that crap. But while wrapped up in it, it was serious stuff. . . Yolande describes this perfectly.”

— Mary Borelli


“A must read for anyone interested in # cult # biography # religion # great escapes # literature. This beautifully written and probing biography traces the fine line between delusion and hope. Real life reflected through an imposing moon and a search for meaning: it is a modern classic.”

— G. Richardson


“I finished this book a week ago and it’s still living with me. This is a beautifully written first book by the author and is a book you can’t put down once you start it. Every review I’ve read describes this book as ‘honest’ and I can’t think of a better word for it. Yolande bears her heart with the story of her life, her dependent relationships and her years in the Moonies.”

— Ann P.


“An amazingly brave and honest memoir about joining the moony cult (Unification Church). Beautiful use of language and symbolism, with insightful observations. A great and powerful read.”

— S. James "Anthology"


“Yolande Brener’s life story from london to New York via a mass wedding in Seoul is more fantastical than the plot of any novel. An interesting read.”

— A. Reader