Pub Date: September 18, 2018

Author: Lisa Kohn

The best seats Lisa Kohn ever had at Madison Square Garden were at her mother’s mass wedding, and the best cocaine she ever had was from her father’s friend, the judge.

Born to hippie parents and raised in New York City’s East Village in the 1970s, Lisa’s early years were a mixture of encounter groups, primal screams, macrobiotic diets, communes, Indian ashrams, Jefferson Airplane concerts in Central Park, and watching naked actors on off-Broadway stages during the musical HAIR. By the time her older brother was ten, Lisa’s father had him smoking pot. By the time Lisa was ten, Lisa’s mother had them pledging their lives to the Unification Church (the “Moonies”) and self-appointed Messiah, Reverend Sun Myung Moon. 

As a child Lisa knew the ecstatic comfort of inclusion in a cult and as a teenager the torment of rebelling against it. As an adult, Lisa struggled to break free from the hold of abuse and the scars in her heart, mind, and psyche—battling her own addictions and inner demons and searching her soul for a sense of self-worth. Told in spirited candor, to the moon and back reveals how one can leave behind absurdity and horror and create a life of intention and joy. This is the fascinating tale of a story rarely told in its full complexity.


“A teacher and leadership consultant takes readers into the crevices of a cult. Growing up in New York in the 1970s, debut author Kohn had few points of reference through which she could make sense of the world around her. She and her brother, Robbie, were caught in the throes of their parents’ belief in the Unification Church, founded by a self-appointed messiah, Sun Myung Moon (followers were called Moonies)… But this is not just an inside-the-cult book; this is the story of a woman who attempted everything in her power to get out of it…If writing is an evacuation tool to process and understand abuse, Kohn has done an excellent job of producing a text that oozes with honesty and truth.”

Kirkus Reviews


“You really need to read this book, because it’s awesome.”

—Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, New York Times bestselling author of Furiously Happy


“Lisa Kohn writes with an honesty that will grip you immediately and take you on her harrowing, expansive journey. You won’t be able to help yourself. You’ll be compelled to read her fascinating story—which will entertain, discomfort, and broaden you—and you’ll be better for it. She is a fierce, true spirit, who finds her way past anything childhood threw at her—including fanatical cults, confusing love, and life in the dangerous East Village—and makes us see that healing and finding your own ground is always possible.”

—Tama Kieves, USA Today featured visionary career catalyst and bestselling author of Thriving Through Uncertainty


to the moon and back is a wild and honest ride that makes sense of complex and sometimes painful experiences with heart, grit, and courage. Lisa’s energy, infectious positivity, and transparency about her own life journey and all its twists and turns will inspire any woman who’s looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.”

—Kelly McNelis, Founder of Women For One, author of Your Messy Brilliance


“Wow. What a read. I truly had trouble putting it down.”

—Catherine Gilbert Murdoch, author of Dairy Queen and Book of Boy


“Lisa Kohn shows us in her powerful memoir that it is possible to find peace and contentment despite having a rocky, unstable, and often confusing childhood.”  

—Madeleine Black, author of Unbroken


“Lisa’s story is riveting, redeeming and oh so inspiring. I couldn’t put it down.”

 Cheryl Rice, MS, author of Where Have I Been All My Life? 


“One person’s crazy cult is another one’s sanctuary. When you are a child from a broken home and that person is your mother (and you’re so deep into being a Moonie that you are best friends with the leader’s kids), and your father is a party-hearty hippie bartender, a lifetime of confusion, and more, is sure to follow. Kohn’s long and twisted journey to make sense of it all will have you quickly thinking, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ and marveling at the resilience of the human spirit.”  

—Jo Maeder, author of the bestselling memoir When I Married My Mother


“Moving and inspiring! Lisa courageously details how she collected mere threads of childhood normalcy to weave a life strengthened by resiliency and love.”

—Cara Bradley, author of On The Verge


“Lisa Kohn offers a personal perspective about life and love within the Unification Church. It’s a heartfelt examination of what it’s like to be kid growing up in a ‘cult.’ And about difficulties with family, friends, and adolescence that are often complicated and exacerbated by groups called cults due to their dramas and dynamics. Often when former members from such groups write about their personal journey and recovery it can potentially enlighten everyone who reads it. Accounts like Lisa Kohn’s are a necessary ingredient for our collective education because they give us an inside view that only an ex-member can provide.”

—Rick Ross, Executive Director, Cult Education Institute