Mating in Captivity: A Memoir

A Harvard grad seeks a mate in a cult that forbids monogamy. To pursue love on her own terms, she must brave exile and learn self-trust.

When recent Harvard grad Helen Zuman moved to Zendik Farm in 1999, she was thrilled to discover that the Zendiks used go-betweens to arrange sexual assignations, or “dates,” in cozy shacks just big enough for a double bed and a nightstand. Here, it seemed, she could learn an honest version of the mating dance – and form a union free of “Deathculture” lies. No one spoke the truth: Arol, the Farm’s matriarch, crushed any love that threatened her hold on her followers’ hearts. An intimate look at a transformative cult journey, Mating in Captivity shows how stories can trap us and free us, how miracles rise out of crisis, how coercion feeds on forsaken self-trust.


What others are saying about Mating in Captivity:

In this raw, honest memoir, debut author Helen Zuman takes us on a harrowing journey through her time in a cult. Beautiful and brave. –BETH RICANATI, author of Make Challah and Call Me in the Morning (forthcoming September 2018)

This extraordinary tale of a young woman’s search for a simpler life takes the reader into the world of a manipulative cult, where empty promises of spiritual fulfillment and unconditional acceptance resolve into threats of rejection. As Helen’s inability to conform to the group’s demands pushes her towards exile, she discovers her own resilience. Beautifully written, this book offers a thoughtful and earnest glimpse of one woman’s struggle for approval in an abusive and deceptive milieu, and shows how the bonds formed there have carried through to recovery. –DIANE SHUTE, author of After Midnight

Zuman's entertaining depiction of her life in a modern-day cult examines two clashing themes: the appeal of belonging versus the desire for self-determination. An enlightening read. –JULIA SCHEERES, author of A Thousand Lives and Jesus Land