By: Mikel Jollett
HOLLYWOOD PARK is a remarkable memoir of a tumultuous life. Mikel Jollett was born into one of the country’s most infamous cults, and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Yet, ultimately, his is a story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely gifted writer.
We were never young. We were just too afraid of ourselves. No one told us who we were or what we were or where all our parents went. They would arrive like ghosts, visiting us for a morning, an afternoon. They would sit with us or walk around the grounds, to laugh or cry or toss us in the air while we screamed. Then they’d disappear again, for weeks, for months, for years, leaving us alone with our memories and dreams, our questions and confusion. …
So begins Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.
In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.
Hollywood Park is told at first through the limited perspective of a child, and then broadens as Jollett begins to understand the world around him. Although Mikel Jollett’s story is filled with heartbreak, it is ultimately an unforgettable portrayal of love at its fiercest and most loyal.
Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir
Bookish tip: Go the audio book route. Mikel narrates it and it features music from The Airborne Toxic Event’s upcoming album also called Hollywood Park.
Release date: May 26, 2020
Special thanks to Bookish First, Celadon Books, MacMillan Audio and Libro.fm for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett is absolutely phenomenal! I devoured this book. Mikel’s tumultuous life simply pulled at my heartstrings.
When I first began listening to / reading Hollywood Park, I had no idea what path this memoir would take. Is it sad and tragic? Yes. Is it heartbreaking? Yes. Will you cry? Yes. However, it also gives readers a sense of hope and the all consuming feeling of love.
Jollett’s memoir showcases the bonds that he has with each and everyone of his love ones…..his Dad, Bonnie, Tony, Daren, Paul, his Mom. Each bond is so unique and so feral. Jollett loves with so much fierceness that it’s inspiring. By the end, it becomes really clear that Hollywood Park is the highest of tributes to the people in his life.
And so even in his sad times – because they were happy times, too – he feels a little bit of hope. He pulls through. He finds love with Lizette. He channels his energy into the music he loves. He finds his purpose in life.
Hollywood Park sat heavy on my heart for days. A book hangover reared it’s ugly head which is a little ironic given the contexts of this book. There were so many scenes that emotionally wrecked me especially one pivotal scene that takes place at the infamous Hollywood Park. But never in my reading life has two one sentence pages simply gutted me the way this book had.
Oh my heart.
Mikel, your love is fierce. You are inspiring. Now do something with it.
Recommendation: This is a must read for EVERYONE. I don’t even think five fantastic stars is enough. All the stars. All the feels.
You Need Hollywood Park In Your Life. No really…YOU DO!
You can purchase Hollywood Park through my Amazon storefront by clicking on the graphic below!
Rather listen to the audio books instead? Sign up with Libro.fm! They have several different plans and some of the proceeds support your local bookstore!
This post may contain affiliate links for products and services I recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s rare but I don’t want you to be misinformed.
Don’t Miss Another Post!
Don’t miss another bookish post. Subscribe to my blog today!
Are you planning to read Hollywood Park? Let me know!