counter create hit Hollywood Park - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Hollywood Park

Availability: Ready to download

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 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.


Compare

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 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.

30 review for Hollywood Park

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    We were never young. No one told us who 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 up 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[...] Weeellll... I hadn't planned to read Hollywood Park. It was an unsolicited arc that turned u We were never young. No one told us who 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 up 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[...] Weeellll... I hadn't planned to read Hollywood Park. It was an unsolicited arc that turned up with some others, but when I saw it was about a man who was born into a cult, I thought the premise was interesting enough to warrant a second glance. I didn't take in the name of the author at first. Then I opened the front page, stared at the author's picture, and I realized I recognized him. Glancing through the description, I realized it was Mikel Jollett, lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event, and writer of one of my favourite songs of all time. Actually, I need a moment for this. I apologize in advance, but I could write an essay on this song. Like books, I love songs that tell stories, and this is one that captures an encounter between a man and his ex with such amazing imagery-- the bar lights, the piano, her laugh *shivers*. Not only that, but I think it is an incredible piece of music, and I'm not even someone who usually notices that kind of thing. But the opening blast of classical that gives way to the delicate opening notes that accompany the first words, then the drum beat that comes in like you can hear the guy's heart pounding, all of it building to a loud crescendo as this guy basically has a breakdown. And it's kinda... sad-sexy? Like I can feel the sexual chemistry between the two of them, but it's sad because they're not together. Did I mention that I fucking love this song? Okay, okay, moving on. What I didn't know is that Jollett was born into Synanon, a cult that initially promised its members a drug rehabilitation program, but instead enforced strict rules, carried out mass beatings, and separated babies from their parents at six months old. Mikel was one of these babies. One day, a woman who was a virtual stranger to him came and told him they were leaving. Apparently, this was his mother. Though they escaped, the effects of Synanon were deep and permanent. For a long time, the family lived in poverty and Mikel's mother - who was later diagnosed with a mental disorder - offered no source of affection or comfort for Mikel and his older brother, Tony. It turns out that Jollett can write memoirs almost as well as he can write songs. He has a very arresting and engaging style, a touch poetic but not overly so, and I especially liked how he wrote in present tense and in an age-appropriate voice, which reminded me of The Glass Castle. Because of this, we escape Synanon with a young scared boy who is confused by the world around him and his mother's mentions of Thatasshole Reagan; then later we feel the angst and frustration of a teenager pushing back against his mother's demands and longing to be with his dad, his hero; and, finally, the book and Jollett reach maturity, and it truly feels like we've lived a lifetime with him. Hollywood Park is, in many ways, a way for the author to handle his grief over the loss of his father. His father is the shining star of this book and his love and personality come bounding off the page. It just shows how even someone who has messed up a lot of their own life by being a convict and an addict can have such a huge inspiring impact on someone else through their kindness and support. Mikel Jollett did not have an easy start in life, to say the least, but he made it through with the help of his beloved father and, of course, music. The book is, admittedly, a little longer than is really necessary, but well worth reading for those looking for hope and inspiration mixed in with their tragedy. Facebook | Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    What do you do when you’re a scared-shitless kid that’s been faking it for so long? You bury it. You polish your smile and study until you can’t even focus your eyes. You buy yourself a big red sweater with an S across the chest, just like the superchild you once were. You try to prove them all wrong. You attempt to outrun it. But then you get injured and your mom goes insane and a kind man in a blue shirt with a trim black beard uses the words. Emotional abuse. Crossing physical boundaries, What do you do when you’re a scared-shitless kid that’s been faking it for so long? You bury it. You polish your smile and study until you can’t even focus your eyes. You buy yourself a big red sweater with an S across the chest, just like the superchild you once were. You try to prove them all wrong. You attempt to outrun it. But then you get injured and your mom goes insane and a kind man in a blue shirt with a trim black beard uses the words. Emotional abuse. Crossing physical boundaries, Trauma. Neglect. I feel like a blank space covered in skin. Who is that masked man? If all of your life you’ve worn a mask, what do you see in the mirror? A reflection of someone you aren’t. How can you know who you really are, or who you might become, if you see your world through cut-out holes? And the world never gets to see you, never gets to relate to you, the real you, behind your facade. Kinda tough to live your best life that way. Kinda tough to live a real life that way. And how did that mask get there in the first place? And how did it impact the nuts and bolts of your life? And is there any hope you can tear it off without losing the you beneath, pull it off slowly, maybe un-sew it from your face, a stitch at a time? Mikel Jollett - image from his Twitter Who is that masked man, the kid from the cult, the pre-teen looking for thrills, the teenager who nearly killed himself, the long-distance-runner, the Stanford student, the substance abuser, the serial spoiler of relationships, the music-world journalist, the successful rock musician, the wonderful writer? Or are they all just different masks? Synenon leader Charles Dederich - Image from San Diego State University The impetus to write the book was a recent one. Jollett had been writing and performing music with his band, Airborne Toxic Event, since 2005, a step sideways from his intention to pursue a writing career, and a closely linked redirection from his work as a music journalist. Then, in 2015, his father died, and Jollett says he was overwhelmed with grief and confusion. “I wondered why it hit me so hard, so I went back into my past—that day my mom took us out of the cult. I went in to lockdown and started to write.” He stayed with it for three years. - from the PW interviewThere was a lot to write about. This coming of age story begins when he was five. Jollett had the bad luck to be born into a bad situation. His parents were members of Synenon, a place that came to public prominence in the 1960s in California, a goto drug rehab community for a while. People charged with substance-related crimes were often sent there by California courts. It probably did some good in the beginning, but as the leader of Synenon, Chuck Dederich, became more and more unhinged and power mad, his not totally crazy community became a totally crazy cult. Not the best start for a new life. One of the rules in Synenon was that children were to be raised communally. So, even though mom and/or dad might be around, they were not the ones providing care. Have a nice life. “It was an orphanage!” Grandma screams. “That’s what you call a place where strangers raise your kids!” Grandma says that mom doesn’t even know who put us to bed or who woke us up or who taught us to read. She says we were sitting ducks. (We did play Duck Duck Goose a lot.) “You made them orphans, Gerry!” Grandma will point at us from her chair as we pretend not to listen. We follow Mik’s journey from his earliest memories of Synenon, raised by people other than his parents until Mom flees with him and his older brother in the dark of night. Most orphanages do not send goons to track down people, including children, who leave. Even out of the Synenon cult, Mik, his brother, Tony, and his mom, Gerry, were not safe. Mik gets to see a fellow “splittee” get beaten nearly to death by Synenon enforcers outside his new home. Facing your dark side - image from Narcissism and emotional abuse.co.uk If this decidedly unstable beginning was not enough of a challenge, his mother was not the best of all possible parents. Is that a mom? Someone who you can’t ever remember not loving you? I know Mom doesn’t think that’s what it is but I do…She tells me I’m her son and she wanted kids so she wouldn’t be alone anymore and now she has us and it is a son’s job to take care of his mother. Gerry was just a weeeee bit narcissistic, to her children’s decided disadvantage. It would take Mik years to learn that the usual arrangement was that parents take care of children. Image from collectiveevolution.com Jollett takes us through many stages of his life, successfully modulating the narrative to fit the age he is portraying in each. As he grows, his awareness increases and his interests broaden. It makes him, appropriately, an unreliable narrator as young Mik does not yet have the tools to see past the misinformation he is being given. It took my brother and I a long long time to piece together the reality that a functional adult might have about the situation, that we’d escaped a cult that had once done good things for addicts (including our father), that our mother was severely depressed, and that these experiences were very unique in some ways and quite common in others. So I wrote the book from that perspective, at least at the beginning: that of a child trying to piece together the reality of the changing world around him; because that’s how I experienced it. There were mysteries. What is a restaurant? (We’d never been in one). What is a car? A city? And, most devastatingly, what is a family? Because we simply didn’t know. - from the Celadon interviewBeing born into a cult and having a depressed, toxically narcissistic mother were two strikes already, but then pop, and other paternal family members had spent considerable time behind bars, and in both his paternal and his maternal trees there was a history of substance abuse, of one sort or many. You’d think Mik was destined to wind up an alcoholic and/or a drug addict and in jail. Is genetics destiny? This is a core battle he faced in his life. Another was to come to terms with how his strange upbringing affected how he related to other human beings, particularly to women. He talks a lot about how he presented a façade to the world, while keeping his truest self well back, if he even knew his true self at all. Robert Smith mask - Image from funkyBunky.co Jollett endured years of poverty, and emotional abuse. He found outlets in criminal acts and substance abuse. But he also found other ways to fill his needs and channel his creativity. A close friend introduced him to the music that would push him in a new constructive direction. I go to a place in my head where I can be alone. Listening to Robert Smith sing his happy songs about how sad he feels is like he’s there too, like he has his Secret Place in his head where he goes and since he wrote a song about it, he’s right there in my headphones, so we’re in this Secret Place together. Me and Robert. It’s a place where we are allowed to be sad, instead of feeling like freaks of nature, us weirdos and orphans. A major change in Mik’s life is when he begins spending time with his father, Jimmy, and his father’s significant other, in Los Angeles, first summers, then, at age 11, moving there more permanently, Gerry having moved to Oregon with the boys when they were fleeing Synenon. It is a whole new world for him there, not just offering different ways to get into trouble, but the opportunity to get to know Jimmy and his father’s family, something that was not really possible in his earliest years, particularly as his mother had portrayed Jimmy negatively. I’d been told so many terrible things about him at a very young age. He was a heroin addict, an ex-con who’d done years in prison. He “left my mother for a tramp.” That was a common refrain. But none of it turned out to matter. He was clean by the time I was born and all I ever knew once I got to spend time with him, was this guy who would do anything for me. He was affectionate. He took us everywhere. He cared so deeply about our basic happiness. He had a great laugh and a quiet wisdom about him. He never cared what I became in life. He wanted me to be honest, to be interesting (or simply funny), and to be around. - from the Celadon interviewThe emotional core of the book is connections Jollett has, for good or ill, with the people in his life, friends, and particularly family. Jimmy was fond of betting on the ponies. He took Mik with him once he started visiting LA. Hollywood Park is the track they attended. It is where Mik has meaningful heart-to-hearts with his father. It is a place that lives in his imagination as well, a place where he can connect with his family across time. Will Mik grow up to be a ”Jollett Man,” a bad-ass tough guy who leans hard toward wildness, or something other? There are certainly strains in him that offer other possibilities. His athleticism, intellectual curiosity, academic licks, creativity, musical talent, and stick-to-itive-ness offer hope for a future different from his father’s. Image from The Smiths and Morrissey FB pages As an adult, Mik finds a career in music, and gains insights into the musical creative process from some household names. He gains as well insights into his emotional state that help him understand the life he has been living. But the real core is how he got to that place to begin with. Image from Invaluabl.com Jollett employs literary tools to great effect. For example, as an eight-year-old in Oregon, his family raised and slaughtered rabbits for food. In addition to this being a sign of the family’s poverty, it is clear that young Mik senses that he, too, is being raised in an emotional cage to provide sustenance of another sort. His writing is smooth and often moving. There are sum-up portions at the end of chapters that pull together what that chapter has been about. These bits tend toward the self-analytical, and are often poetic. …music makes me feel like I belong somewhere, that this person I don’t know, the one who swims beneath his life in a dark, chaotic, unknowable place, this one has a voice too. Mikel Jollett has written a remarkable memoir, offering not just a look at his dramatic and event-filled personal journey, but a peek out from the masks he wore to the times he lived through. While his actions and experiences covered a considerable swath, there is always, throughout his moving tale, a connection to family, to his mother, father, brother, various step-parents, his extended family, and closest friends. The power of these connections caused him considerable difficulty, but also made it possible for him to weather some major life storms. The odds are you will be moved by Jollett’s celebration of real human bonding, cringe at some of the challenges he had to endure, mumble an “oh, no,” or worse, as you see the missteps along his path, cheer for the triumphs when they come, and luxuriate in the beauty of his writing. Whatever else you may get from the book, it is clear that Mikel Jollett is unmasked as an outstanding writer. Hollywood Park is a sure winner of a read. Bet on it. One sentence [in The Scarlet Letter] stood out to me as I read on the edge of my bed. I marked the page: “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” It made me think of the Secret Place, the place I hide with Robert Smith. I know this face. I’ve learned not to tell anyone at school about Synanon or Dad in prison or…Mom in the bed staring up at the ceiling. It’s a mask, this face you create for others, one you hide behind as you laugh at jokes you don’t understand and skip uncomfortable details, entire years of your life, as if they simply didn’t happen. Jollett (l.), with dad Jimmy and brother Tony -image from Publishers Weekly Review posted – May 15, 2020 Publication date – May 5, 2020 I received an ARE of this book from Celadon in return for an honest review. But, do they really know who they gave this book to? I could be anyone, pretending to be anyone. Thanks to MC, too. ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I have moved it to the comments section directly below.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett is a 2020 Celadon Books publication. An unconventional journey fraught with adversity, but ultimately an inspirational memoir To be honest, I went into this memoir blind. I think I added it mainly due to the mention of a cult, a topic I am often drawn to. However, before starting the book, I Googled Jollett, and listened to his music, wondering why I had not stumbled across him earlier. But, despite my unfamiliarity with the author, I found myself pulled into his Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett is a 2020 Celadon Books publication. An unconventional journey fraught with adversity, but ultimately an inspirational memoir To be honest, I went into this memoir blind. I think I added it mainly due to the mention of a cult, a topic I am often drawn to. However, before starting the book, I Googled Jollett, and listened to his music, wondering why I had not stumbled across him earlier. But, despite my unfamiliarity with the author, I found myself pulled into his original approach, in which he uses the voice of his childhood,making it seem as though we are living these experiences right along with him. It is instantaneously obvious that Mikel’s upbringing is irregular, to say the least. Although I have heard of many cults, I was not familiar with Synanon, the cult Jollett lived in until the age of five, when his mother finally escaped. Again, I did a little Googling and learned that the cult was supposed to be a drug rehabilitation center but had turned violent. While it is a relief to know the family made it out of that situation, Mikel’s childhood is far from stable. Addiction, narcissism, and a lack of traditional parenting, forces Mikel to become wizened beyond his years. This is a powerful, compelling memoir. Jollet’s extraordinary writing technique gives one a poignant look at addiction and the emotional drain that reigns on all of those involved. His words are tender and merciful, his memories affecting, and his courage inspiring. Despite the painful scars, Mikel’s hard work and personal growth have broken chains, providing him with the strength and insight to become a productive and successful adult. Overall, a compelling memoir I am so glad I took a chance on!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo 4.5/5 stars A heartbreaking and beautifully written memoir. Hollywood Park was never on my radar until Goodreads sent me this book. I didn’t even know who Mikel Jollett, the author and the singer in a band called The Airborne Toxic Event, was until I actually opened this book. As some of you probably know, I don’t read memoir/non-fiction often; at most it’s once or twice a year, and I’m incredibly picky about the books I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo 4.5/5 stars A heartbreaking and beautifully written memoir. Hollywood Park was never on my radar until Goodreads sent me this book. I didn’t even know who Mikel Jollett, the author and the singer in a band called The Airborne Toxic Event, was until I actually opened this book. As some of you probably know, I don’t read memoir/non-fiction often; at most it’s once or twice a year, and I’m incredibly picky about the books I choose to read. But one chapter into Hollywood Park, the writing was more than enough already to convince me that I’m going to have to read this memoir. “That’s the whole magic trick of an essence brought to life by a song, to become an artist when you feel broken and you’ve decided to turn it into beauty. To make the pain useful. The longing, the fear, the heartache and dread, the ability to see these broken pieces of yourself like cracks in an armor through which you are better able to see the world: too broken to be normal, just broken enough to see beauty.” I’ll keep this review brief; I don’t feel like I’m in the right spot to judge or analyze Mikel’s life. Hollywood Park tells the coming-of-age story of Mikel Jollett, and my god, the life he has led is one that truly made me grateful for my life and the family I have. Mikel’s childhood is tumultuous, to say the least, and he grew up witnessing things that kids shouldn’t have seen, or even worse, experienced. But this is the cards that were dealt with him, and the card dictates a life filled with anger, sadness, emptiness, addiction, and Mikel never even got to experience the love he needed as a child; instead, he has to be an adult since he was 5 years old. But it’s important to know that this isn’t all bleak. The memoir was beautifully written; I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir/non-fiction that’s as beautifully written as this. Reading the book from Mikel’s third-person narration in the present tense since he was a child up to his adulthood made me feel like I have lived with him. “It seemed like writers have the most important job in the world, to make books, to create a connection, a kind of telepathy between two minds in which one can inhabit the other.” It did take me about 100 pages long for me to find myself fully immersed with the narrative, but once I did, I couldn’t put the book down. Everything about Hollywood Park just felt raw, poignant, bittersweet, and more importantly, despite all the emotional devastation and palpable sorrow that surrounds Mikel’s life, the fierce love—though they’re difficult to find—displayed were the most powerful. In the totality of darkness, when everything feels lost and hopeless, a small display of affection that maintains its light might become the catalyst to save someone’s life. We know this; each one of us has our own demons and conflicts to face, and having someone by our side who will listen and care for us with requirements attached sometimes means more than anything that exquisite material can offer. If you haven’t gotten the chance to experience this, I sincerely hope that you will be patient; the day will come, and once it arrived, I’m sure you will be glad that you have stayed strong through the challenges that life throws at you. Be kind to one another. Thank you, Mikel Jollett, for telling us your story. You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores!) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Zoe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This knocked the breath out of me. Raw. C-U-L-T. Born into it then escaping it 5 years later with his older brother and mother. For years, Mikel struggles to find his identity. His mother, constantly battling depression and falling in with the wrong men. The children - collateral damage. How messed up he felt- taking on different personas to fit in. Running, academically, musically. All escape tactics. Each the final Hail Mary? Or saving grace. It saved him from the drugs and the alcohol;from the s This knocked the breath out of me. Raw. C-U-L-T. Born into it then escaping it 5 years later with his older brother and mother. For years, Mikel struggles to find his identity. His mother, constantly battling depression and falling in with the wrong men. The children - collateral damage. How messed up he felt- taking on different personas to fit in. Running, academically, musically. All escape tactics. Each the final Hail Mary? Or saving grace. It saved him from the drugs and the alcohol;from the shadows. The conflict of Not knowing how he should feel- being told he doesn’t feel anything from that former life by his mother thereby denying his own existence for those early years. He moves in with his dad as a young teen hoping to find some definition there. This memoir is heartbreaking. A son of 5 having to comfort his mom while suppressing and suffocating in his own trauma behind a shield he wouldn’t allow to crack. Jollett has mastered the skill of honesty and the fuckedupness of his upbringing that shaped who he is; who he became along with his amazing relationship with his father. 5⭐️

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Terrific, engaging, intimate.... Audiobook Memoir... read by the author! Meet Mikel Jollett..... He’s a pretty likable guy.... with a story to share!! He intimately shares his traumatic childhood. I felt like I was eavesdropping on Mikel’s personal private mutterings during some of the most wretched years of his life. He doesn’t shy away from sharing about the overpowering mentally ill adults who raised him in the cult-environment, without his own parents..... that he eventually escaped. A grim memoi Terrific, engaging, intimate.... Audiobook Memoir... read by the author! Meet Mikel Jollett..... He’s a pretty likable guy.... with a story to share!! He intimately shares his traumatic childhood. I felt like I was eavesdropping on Mikel’s personal private mutterings during some of the most wretched years of his life. He doesn’t shy away from sharing about the overpowering mentally ill adults who raised him in the cult-environment, without his own parents..... that he eventually escaped. A grim memoir that is sometimes sidesplitting hilarious filled with nostalgia tidbits....( french fries and orange crush soda anyone?) Mostly it’s heartbreaking, but hopeful..... ...a childhood filled with: despair and love, ...abandonment and love, ...poverty and love, ...abuse and love, ...emptiness and love, ...confusion and love..... ...brutality and love.... ...addiction and love... ...education and love... ...food and love... ...sibling and family complexities.... ...compassion and love ...redemption and love. truthful, real, raw, wacky crazy troubling stories... a true story ... that’s sad ... with a happy ending! Mikel Jollett is the frontman of the indie band Airborne Toxic Event. He graduated from Stanford University with honors.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    I’m the first to admit I can be critical of memoirs, understanding they are often deeply personal. That said, I really enjoyed reading Mikel Jollett’s Hollywood Park, detailing his childhood, which first began in a cult and then beyond, moving back and forth between Oregon, living with his mother, and California, living with his dad. There was a lot going on including addiction issues and substantial emotional abuse. I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy toward his mother as she was delusi I’m the first to admit I can be critical of memoirs, understanding they are often deeply personal. That said, I really enjoyed reading Mikel Jollett’s Hollywood Park, detailing his childhood, which first began in a cult and then beyond, moving back and forth between Oregon, living with his mother, and California, living with his dad. There was a lot going on including addiction issues and substantial emotional abuse. I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy toward his mother as she was delusional, frequently pinning blame and guilt on her two sons, Mikel and his brother, Tony, for all things that went wrong in her life. She made many questionable choices, often letting her desire for a nuclear family override making responsible parenting decisions. I was pleased to see when she was finally called out on her behavior though sorry to see it took so long. It wasn’t an easy road but I enjoyed seeing the progression of Mikel’s relationship with Tony and with his dad. Mikel and Tony’s relationship became stronger as they grew older, recognizing all they had been through and were subjected to in their childhood. Hollywood Park became a special place for Mikel and his dad and it was nice to read about their bonding that took place there. Mikel experienced conflicting feelings as he grew older — Wondering if he was a fraud and could actually rise above the status of his family’s seeming destiny (prison or addiction) and if he really belonged anywhere else. He was accepted to Stanford and graduated with honors. Following college, he held a few respectable jobs but wasn’t satisfied. He became involved in music journalism, and eventually formed the band, The Airborne Toxic Event. I wasn’t familiar with the band prior to reading this story, though they have toured the nation and have played at Coachella. It took a long time for Mikel to understand and accept that his life wasn’t conventional, to make peace with this and still find the joy he deserved. I can see some similarities to The Glass Castle yet found his story unique and compelling in its own right. Hollywood Park is a well-written worthwhile read about overcoming adversity and finding love and happiness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Author Mikel Jollett Mikel Jollett, frontman for the indie rock band Airborne Toxic Event, had a tumultuous childhood. Airborne Toxic Event Mikel Jollett performing Jollett's parents were members of Synanon, a California cult that began as a drug rehab organization. Synanon was founded in 1958, and aspired to be a place "where people lived, all together, being honest and free and not taking drugs." Synanon Synanon started as a rehab facility for drug addicts Synanon's mission was to change the world Author Mikel Jollett Mikel Jollett, frontman for the indie rock band Airborne Toxic Event, had a tumultuous childhood. Airborne Toxic Event Mikel Jollett performing Jollett's parents were members of Synanon, a California cult that began as a drug rehab organization. Synanon was founded in 1958, and aspired to be a place "where people lived, all together, being honest and free and not taking drugs." Synanon Synanon started as a rehab facility for drug addicts Synanon's mission was to change the world for the better, but it soon devolved into a dangerous, violent cult that separated families. By the time Mikel was born in 1974, six-month-old babies were taken from their parents and put in an orphanage-like 'school' where they were raised by strangers and rarely - or in some cases never - saw their parents. In Synanon, children were separated from their parents Mikel recalls, "We had Demonstrators who were like teachers, and classes and songs and I was lucky because I had a Bonnie. She would hug me every day and call me "Suuuuuun" and ask me what I want for a snack." Mikel also had friends - Cassidy, Guy, Dmitri, and Noah. Mikel even got to see his parents on rare occasions, and happily remembers his dad, Jim Jollett, riding up on a motorcycle and playing with him at the beach. Mikel with his father Jim Mikel's older brother Tony was especially isolated at Synanon. Mikel writes, "Tony used to sit alone at the edge of the playground all day. He didn't trust the adults and he didn't play with other kids that much. Maybe it's because someone did bad things to him.....The kids would get hit really hard or locked in a closet and there was no mom or dad to tell because they lived somewhere else and you couldn't even remember their faces." When Mikel was five and Tony was seven, their mother Gerry staged a nighttime rescue and fled from the cult, a risky move that could result in beatings and even murder. The Jolletts managed to escape, however, and Mikel and Tony finally got to meet their maternal Grandma and Grandpa in San Jose, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins - an extended 'family' that bewildered Mikel, who couldn't imagine having relatives. Mikel and Tony's father Jim left Synanon as well, but moved in with another woman. Mikel with his father Jim Mikel and Tony with their father Jim Mikel's mom was angry and hurt by her husband's desertion, and longed for 'a man to take care of her.' Thus, when the family moved to Berkeley, a former cult member named Phil joined them. Phil was almost a father figure to the boys until two Synanon thugs caught up with him. Mikel, who saw what happened, remembers, "The men have something like masks the color of skin that push their noses flat against their faces. Even in the masks you can tell they both have shaved heads, which means they're from Synanon." The goons beat Phil to a pulp with "skinny black clubs", then asked a group of gawking children, "Do any of you know where Tony and Mikel are?" Luckily the kids didn't answer, and the Jollett family fled to Salem, Oregon, where Mikel's mom thought they'd be safe. When Synanon became a cult, members had to shave their heads Life in Oregon was hard. Gerry got involved with one man after another, all of them addicts of some kind. Thus, though the boyfriends might be kind - and even avuncular - to Tony and Mikel, they inevitably took off (or died) after a while. The family was also desperately poor. Mom worked as a counselor for ex-convict drug addicts, but money was scarce and the Jolletts wore thrift store clothes and raised rabbits for food. For a long time the family ate rabbits most nights. Mikel notes, "Mom makes baked rabbit and lemon rabbit. She makes stir-fry rabbit with peppers and onions and 'rabbit surprise', which is leftover baked rabbit that has been cut up and put into a casserole dish." Mikel relates an amusing (but stomach-churning) story about Mom serving the same increasingly gluey rabbit stew four days in a row....until it was a grayish brown mass in the center of the pot. 😝 Baked rabbit Rabbit stew Besides being deprived of material things, Mikel and Tony got no emotional support from their mother, who suffered from depression and other psychological maladies. Gerry even seemed to inhabit an alternate reality. When Mikel told his mother "I'm scared of the [Synanon] men, Mom", she would say "No you're not. You're happy because you're with your mother now." When Mikel told his mother he was having nightmares about Phil's pummeling, she'd insist, "You're fine. You weren't even there." Then Gerry would lament, "This has been really hard on me." Mom's denial of Mikel's feelings, and constant deflection to HER feelings, wasn't a one-off but went on for years. Mikel's concerns were dismissed and he was expected to take care of his mother. When Mom was sad or crying, Mikel would lean against her and say "It's okay, Mom. One day at a time" - and other phrases he picked up from AA and Alanon. The Jolletts attended numerous 12-step meetings and AA family campouts because 'addiction is a family problem.' The Jolletts attended many AA meetings Tony, who was more lonely and damaged than Mikel, had an even harder time than his brother. Tony was constantly angry, compulsively acted out, and bullied Mikel relentlessly. Eventually Tony, and then Mikel, moved to Los Angeles to live with their father, who was by then cohabiting with Bonnie - Mikel's affectionate caretaker from Synanon. The boys would return to Oregon during summer breaks, and Mikel's visits with Mom were always difficult for him. Gerry would continuously lament her situation and make Mikel feel guilty for 'deserting his mother.' Even though Dad was a former drug addict, a onetime criminal, and an ex-convict, he and Bonnie were the saviors that gave the boys a stable loving home. In addition, Bonnie's extended Jewish family treated the boys like beloved mishpucha. Nevertheless, as pre-teens and teens, Tony and Mikel constantly snuck out, drank, partied, used drugs, and got into trouble. Both boys also had problems sustaining relationships with girls because of their abandonment issues from childhood. Despite misbehaving and skiving off school, Mikel was a gifted student who ran track, finished high school, and eventually graduated from Stanford University. Mikel had been obsessed with music since he was a youth, and took it up professionally as an adult - writing articles about concerts, interviewing rock stars, and finally becoming a singer/songwriter with his own band. Everything Mikel did was made more difficult by the emotional and psychological damage he'd experienced as a child. Mikel exhaustively (maybe a bit too exhaustively) documents his constant disorientation; the ongoing difficulties with his mother; and the PTSD-like symptoms he experienced for decades. Mikel discusses many things about himself and his life, including his round Dutch cheeks and large childhood overbite; his Dad teaching him to beat up a school bully; his Dad taking him to Hollywood Park to bet on the horse races; Tony's Goth phase and drug addiction; the illnesses and deaths of various family members; and much more. He also recalls happy times with friends, and the wonderful relatives that supported him unconditionally. Mikel's brother Tony Jollett Mikel with his father and brother In the end, Mikel required extensive therapy to become a whole, healthy person, and it's gratifying to see that - with great effort - a seriously damaged child can become a successful adult. The book tackles serious subjects, but does contain some humor. For instance, Mom talked so much about "Thatasshole Reagan" that Mikel was shocked to learn the presidential candidate's real name was Ronald. 😊 Ronald Reagan (aka "Thatasshole Reagan") And Grandma Juliette (Bonnie's mom) didn't care if Mikel heard dirty jokes. He recalls, "If someone says, "Mom, where is the fuckin' ice? I've been looking all over for it", she puts her hands over my ears and says "Don't you ever say the word 'ice' in front of my grandson." This is a well-written poignant memoir that's ultimately optimistic about healing, redemption, and love. Highly recommended. Thank you to Celadon Books and Mikel Jollett for a copy of the book and the View Master with pictures. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    4.8, rounded up (nearly pogo-stick material) Oh, the language! I’m a sucker for a good memoir but at the same time I’m picky. Your life better be fascinating, or I’ll leave you where I found you, alone in my pile of inanimate books. If you come alive, I’ll dance with you. Well, this one roped me in and swung me around. BUT, I forgot to say—if your life isn’t completely captivating (his life is medium captivating), for the love of god be a wordsmith, woo me with your prose! And man did I get wooed! 4.8, rounded up (nearly pogo-stick material) Oh, the language! I’m a sucker for a good memoir but at the same time I’m picky. Your life better be fascinating, or I’ll leave you where I found you, alone in my pile of inanimate books. If you come alive, I’ll dance with you. Well, this one roped me in and swung me around. BUT, I forgot to say—if your life isn’t completely captivating (his life is medium captivating), for the love of god be a wordsmith, woo me with your prose! And man did I get wooed! This guy can write! He writes from his heart, so I was instantly pulled in. I really got a sense of him—his problems with attachment, his feelings of shame, the abuse he endured, his loneliness. He doesn’t just show us his heart, he shows us his head. He’s constantly analyzing himself—which in memoirs always runs the risk of sounding clinical or academic or self-indulgent. Not to worry, Jollet just sounds smart, and his language is poetic and powerful. Jollet spent the first five years in a cult, one of the most famous and dangerous ones in the country. All the kids lived together and rarely got visits from their parents. It was like an orphanage. The book opens just as his mom escapes with him. It’s cool the way the memoir begins, because Jollet often uses a 5-year-old’s language and perspective. One of my only gripes is that I was expecting to hear more about the cult. Couldn’t happen, though, since he left at age 5 and his memories of the cult are scarce. The book blurb writers knew that the tease of a cult would draw readers in, as it did me. I felt tricked, but I quickIy forgave the trick, since Jollett so powerfully zapped me. He spent his life going back and forth between his ex-con, ex-druggie dad in California (whom he loved) and his passive-aggressive abusive mother in Oregon. Everyone poor. His mom had some boyfriends and husbands, which of course affected Mikel’s life. And there’s a brother. Mikel had girlfriends but his relationships fizzled out; he was constantly trying to figure out how it kept happening. I was rooting for Mikel the whole way; he’s so damn likeable. It was exciting to see that despite his childhood and despite his poverty, he ended up at Stanford. Besides being a writer, he’s also a musician. It’s always heart-warming to see a guy succeed when the odds are against him. But I think it’s his drive to learn about himself that steals the show. He doesn’t just report, he analyzes. He eventually got himself to a therapist; I loved that he grew so much because of what he learned from therapy. In a way, the story reminded me of Educated, though I’d say his life wasn’t as horrible as that of the writer of that book. Besides being a little bummed that the book didn’t have much about a kid’s life in a cult, I had two minor complaints: The details of his life as a budding musician bored me; and there was a short bit about AA and its tenets, including a few uses of the God word. Minor nits, though. I did a lot of highlighting. Here are a few quotes that I liked (the first being my favorite): “It seemed like writers have the most important job in the world, to make books, to create a connection, a kind of telepathy between two minds in which one can inhabit the other.” “There seems to be no good answers. I can either do something that makes me uncomfortable or feel guilty about refusing it.” “I feel like a blank space covered in skin.” “Children experience loneliness like shame.” “Something about it made sense: part revival, part confessional, part circus—that’s rock and roll.” Ultimately, this is a story of love and hope, all told by a brilliant writer. The book was raw, but at the same time, polished; it read like a really good novel. I just reread some of my highlights and now I sit in a happy stupor, wanting more. I would read another book by this guy in a heartbeat. Hope he writes short stories or a novel. I’ll be the first in line. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    This was a well-written memoir and once again proves my point you don't necessarily have to be familiar with the person ahead of time in order to appreciate their story. Mikel spent the first few years of his life in the Church of Synanon which was a cult. Thankfully he and his family escaped but obviously the experience is something that stays with you and the long-term effects is just one of the subjects Mikel explores in his memoir. The main reason I chose to read this one is because I have t This was a well-written memoir and once again proves my point you don't necessarily have to be familiar with the person ahead of time in order to appreciate their story. Mikel spent the first few years of his life in the Church of Synanon which was a cult. Thankfully he and his family escaped but obviously the experience is something that stays with you and the long-term effects is just one of the subjects Mikel explores in his memoir. The main reason I chose to read this one is because I have this odd fascination with cults. I'm always curious about the reasons why people end up in a cult, what the heck goes on while they are in a cult, as well how they manage to leave. The Church of Synannon in which Mikel's family were members, mandated children at 6 months old be separated from their parents and raised in the cult's "School". So Mikel and his older brother didn't even have much interaction with their parents until after they left the cult. And while leaving the cult was the right thing to do, it didn't mean that Mikel's life was smooth sailing afterwards. He was five years old when his mother took him and his brother and escaped so the book focuses mostly on the aftermath of leaving a cult although he does share his memories of his time being raised in what was essentially an orphanage type environment. I think Mikel Jollett is a talented writer and I loved how he told his story. Rather than talk about his childhood from only an adult perspective, he relates his experiences of the cult and growing up after escaping in more of a kid's narration style. If you have read the fictional book, Room, it's something similar to that method of storytelling. Mikel even as a child is pretty insightful and wise beyond his years. Given this is a memoir about his life, eventually Mikel's perspective goes from young boy, to teen, and then adulthood. And it truly felt like I was reading the words and thoughts of a child, and then teen, and then an adult. It might sound like a simple thing to do, but I don't think most writers could have pulled it off so flawlessly. There were two things that really stood out for me in this memoir. I thought the topic of addiction was handled in a way in which you could really understand the devastating effects it has not just on the person who is addicted but also on loved ones. And without going into too much detail, Mikel's mother was someone I found fascinating to read about and I appreciate how the dymanics between mother and son was explored in the book. Definitely check this one out especially if you enjoy memoirs. Thank you to Celadon Books for sending me an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    One of my favorite ways to “consume” a memoir is through an audiobook narrated by the author, and that was the case with Hollywood Park. Also something I want to mention is there is music included at transitions, and Mikel Jollett is a musician, so this was another addition that added to the character of this book. Mikel and his brother were born into a famous cult where they were separated from their parents at only six months of age. One day, Mikel’s mother picks them up, and they leave the cul One of my favorite ways to “consume” a memoir is through an audiobook narrated by the author, and that was the case with Hollywood Park. Also something I want to mention is there is music included at transitions, and Mikel Jollett is a musician, so this was another addition that added to the character of this book. Mikel and his brother were born into a famous cult where they were separated from their parents at only six months of age. One day, Mikel’s mother picks them up, and they leave the cult, but the mark of that experience shaped Mikel’s life afterwards even into adulthood. I found the memoir to be thoughtful and well-written. There was this feeling as I read and listened that I was growing up with Mikel because as he grew up, so did his way of expressing his experiences, if that makes sense. The tone of the story matched the age in which he was living at the time. Overall, Mikel’s story is an honest, raw, authentic journey from poverty and addiction to hope, healing, and success. I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  12. 4 out of 5

    emma

    Some people's lives have all the interesting. I think that's really all I have to say about this. Bottom line: What a life! And a pretty good memoir. 3.5 stars ----------- nothing says "fluffy get-out-of-your-slump cheer-up read" like a memoir about a traumatic childhood thanks to the publisher for the arc! Some people's lives have all the interesting. I think that's really all I have to say about this. Bottom line: What a life! And a pretty good memoir. 3.5 stars ----------- nothing says "fluffy get-out-of-your-slump cheer-up read" like a memoir about a traumatic childhood thanks to the publisher for the arc!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Norma

    Candid, revealing, and remarkable! HOLLYWOOD PARK is a fascinating, raw, interesting, engaging, heartfelt, and well-written memoir that has us following Mikel Jollett through his childhood where he was raised in a commune which turned into the cult Synanon in the 1970’s to present day. Now the thing is I rarely ever read memoirs but there was something about this one that totally intrigued me and caught my eye. The title grabbed my attention as well as “notorious cult” from the synopsis. My eyes Candid, revealing, and remarkable! HOLLYWOOD PARK is a fascinating, raw, interesting, engaging, heartfelt, and well-written memoir that has us following Mikel Jollett through his childhood where he was raised in a commune which turned into the cult Synanon in the 1970’s to present day. Now the thing is I rarely ever read memoirs but there was something about this one that totally intrigued me and caught my eye. The title grabbed my attention as well as “notorious cult” from the synopsis. My eyes and ears definitely perk up when I read or see the word cult because I kind of have this odd fascination with them. His childhood was filled with poverty, addiction, emotional abuse, neglect, and delinquency. Reading his story definitely wasn’t easy for me but Mikel Jollett is very talented and tells his story extremely well and with kindness. I loved how he was able to fully immerse us in his childhood by his voice alone and then take us through the years to adulthood. We learned how he matured, transformed his life and how he dealt with what was given to him at such a young age. I cannot leave this review without mentioning Mikel Jollett’s loving father. He was definitely one of the highlights for me and his support and love for his sons totally shined through. The audiobook is appealingly and engagingly performed by the author Mikel Jollett. I honestly didn’t know anything about Mikel Jollet prior to reading this one and it totally worked for me. I appreciated listening to and reading his story. I would definitely recommend it if you enjoy Memoirs that take you on an emotionally powerful, hopeful and insightful journey, or if you have a fascination for cults! Expected Publication Date: May 26, 2020 Thank you so much to Mimi from Goodreads for sending me an advanced copy of this book. I would also like to thank Libro.fm, Celadon Books, and Mikel Jollett for the ALC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars So many times while I was reading this story, or even when I was listening to it on audio somewhere after the halfway point in the book, the words to Philip Larkin’s This Be the Verse (‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad’… etc.) would creep into my thoughts. It seems particularly appropriate to Jollet’s story, beginning with his life as a young child growing up inside Synanon, a cult that began as a drug rehabilitation program, funded by the government in the 1960’s. At some point durin 4.5 Stars So many times while I was reading this story, or even when I was listening to it on audio somewhere after the halfway point in the book, the words to Philip Larkin’s This Be the Verse (‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad’… etc.) would creep into my thoughts. It seems particularly appropriate to Jollet’s story, beginning with his life as a young child growing up inside Synanon, a cult that began as a drug rehabilitation program, funded by the government in the 1960’s. At some point during the 1970’s it became the “Church of Synanon,” which was a cult no matter what name they gave it. ’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, the wide-open places where we were free to run like wild horses in the night.’ Children were raised by a group - essentially a live-in nursery school atmosphere with occasional visits by their biological parents, not that they could relate to terms like mother, father, grandparents. Until one day, a woman whose name they are told is “Mom” comes to take them, and they manage to escape. Not everyone does, and even those who manage to leave the grounds are hunted, beaten or worse. But they are luckier than most, and they have a place to go to, and people there that love them, that are family. ’It’s a strange word. F-A-M-I-L-Y. It’s big and comforting and each letter is different. Just look at it. The F for father right there at the front. The M for mother is in the middle, connecting all the others. It’s a long word but usually people say it in one breath, like “famly” as if the I doesn’t matter.’ This is a family with issues, psychological, physical, emotional, gambling, alcohol and drug issues. Mikel’s mother has substance abuse issues, alcohol. His father, as well, although his father is elsewhere, and it is a while before they are reunited. Mikel and his brother are subject to their mother’s narcissistic issues, her diminishing their feelings, their truths. Hell, the truth. Mom tells us how happy we are and I know it’s my job to pretend. If I tell her I’m sad, she just shakes her head and corrects me, telling me all the reasons I’m luckier than other kids. So I go to a place in my head where I can be alone. They witness things no child should have to, while somewhere in the back of their minds there is always the question of why their mother refuses to face the truth, and if they will end up being like her, or their stepfather - an alcoholic, or their father. None of these people, of course, are perfect, but then again, no one is - especially those who insist they are. ’At the AA meetings, people say you can feel God when you walk through the woods, that he’s everywhere: in the fallen logs and bird nests, in the beehives, the grass, the meadows and trees, an unseen force that surrounds you, connecting you to other living things, reminding you that you’re part of something.’ ‘Maybe that’s family too.’ This was heartbreaking, over and over and over again...and yet, there is the growth you see in Mikel, especially, and the bond that grows between him and his father over time. There is a great sense of naches, paternal pride, there, and a sense of normalcy when Mikel goes to visit his father, and then later on to spend more time living with his father, which breaks his mother’s heart as she will remind him, repeatedly. Even when he is given a scholarship to Stanford University, and even after he is living on his own, making a living first interviewing musicians and later on as a musician, writing his own music, and as the lead singer for indie rock band The Airborne Toxic Event, which he talks about as this memoir winds to a close. But this isn’t really a book about his life in the band, this is more about his journey to get to know his own worth, to learn how to unlearn and let go of the damage done in his earlier years, his willingness to do the hard work to let go of those negative voices and reminders still haunt him. I hadn’t even heard a song by him, by this band, but after listening to them, it isn’t hard for me to understand where that raw ache in his voice came from. Many thanks for Debbie’s review, which prompted me to want to read this one, her review link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Many thanks, as well, and once again, to the Public Library system, the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)

    Mikel is a child of the universe. Born into the Synanon cult, he was given to The School at six months old to be raised by the community, rather than his biological parents. The children were taught to fend for themselves, to self-soothe, and to be independent. Some parents, including Mikel's, visited the school occasionally. He described them as ghosts, drifting in and out unexpectedly. Mikel lived this way until five years old. Mikel's mother escaped the cult and took her sons, Mikel age five Mikel is a child of the universe. Born into the Synanon cult, he was given to The School at six months old to be raised by the community, rather than his biological parents. The children were taught to fend for themselves, to self-soothe, and to be independent. Some parents, including Mikel's, visited the school occasionally. He described them as ghosts, drifting in and out unexpectedly. Mikel lived this way until five years old. Mikel's mother escaped the cult and took her sons, Mikel age five and Tony age seven, with her. They moved to Oregon with another former cult member, Phil, but were quickly discovered by some of the members. Phil paid the price - taking a brutal beating but refusing to give up the location of the boys or their mother. Helplessly, Tony and Mikel watched as Phil nearly lost his life in exchange for their protection. Self-absorbed and stuck in her own cycle of depression and abuse, the boys' mother offered no comfort and actually outright dismissed the traumatic event the boys witnessed confusing their perceptions of reality and trust in authority. Tony and Mikel's father, Jimmy, drifted in and out of their early lives. He had also been part of Synanon and moved to California when he left the cult. When he started dating Bonnie, a former cult member who had taken care of the boys in The School at Synanon, the boys started spending more time with them. Bonnie and their father provided love and a sense stability. They respected the boys and were clearly proud and happy to have them as part of their lives though they feared, especially Jimmy, that the boys would follow in his troubled footsteps of jail, heroin, and a life on the edge. By age ten, Mikel was smoking cigarettes and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Tony was constantly getting in trouble and quickly showing signs of drug and alcohol addiction. Unable to care for the boys properly, they each chose to live with Bonnie and their father at various points rather than their mother. She suffered major bouts of depression and seemed to live in constant denial, focusing only on her needs. To her, the boys owed her an enormous debt for their lives and it was their job to take care of their mother. By putting her own emotional and physical needs first, she further debilitated their sense of self worth. For as much love and stability that Bonnie and Jimmy were able to provide, they could seemingly never repair the damage that had been done to the boys during their first years of life. This was an incredible story of survival and perseverance and Jollett's writing was emotional and transportative. The honesty and self-reflection, -awareness, and -analysis were refreshing and humbling. I originally expected this memoir to be more about Jollett's time in the cult, however, because he left at five years old, it was more his life story after the cult and the cult's impact on his entire being. A life full of trauma, abuse, love, and confusion, Hollywood Park is a memoir I won't soon forget. For anyone with any interest in psychology and the impacts of trauma, neglect, and abuse, this one is for you. Thank you to BookishFirst, NetGalley, and the publisher for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Most memoirs are the story of someone overcoming adversity of some sort. This memoir is not an exception. What is exceptional is the writing. It’s visceral and affecting. Jollett begins his story writing much like a child but not annoyingly so. He seamlessly moves into his teen-aged, young adult and adult years without missing a beat. For the first five years of his life, Jollett was raised within the confines of the Synanon cult taken away from his parents at eighteen months old. His mother fle Most memoirs are the story of someone overcoming adversity of some sort. This memoir is not an exception. What is exceptional is the writing. It’s visceral and affecting. Jollett begins his story writing much like a child but not annoyingly so. He seamlessly moves into his teen-aged, young adult and adult years without missing a beat. For the first five years of his life, Jollett was raised within the confines of the Synanon cult taken away from his parents at eighteen months old. His mother flees from the cult with her two sons when he is five years old. Unfortunately, his mother is unable to focus on anything other than herself which leads to all sorts of abuses both by her and of himself. His ex-con, formerly alcoholic father, in much better shape than his mother, provides some stability although he has issues of his own. This is not a story of growing up in a cult. Moving between his mother’s home in Oregon and his father’s home in California, this is a lifetime spent battling for a sense of self, finding one’s voice and learning how to love and be loved.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    As I often say, memoirs are hit or miss with me. Hollywood Park, despite being beautifully written, is a miss.  Mikel Jollett is an incredible writer but unfortunately I found his story..... boring. Too similar to so many other accounts. I thought it would be more about his time spent in Synanon, a cult in California. However, his mother left when he was four, so his memories of it are scant. The book is mainly about his time after that, growing up with a mother who required her son to parent her, As I often say, memoirs are hit or miss with me. Hollywood Park, despite being beautifully written, is a miss.  Mikel Jollett is an incredible writer but unfortunately I found his story..... boring. Too similar to so many other accounts. I thought it would be more about his time spent in Synanon, a cult in California. However, his mother left when he was four, so his memories of it are scant. The book is mainly about his time after that, growing up with a mother who required her son to parent her, ignoring his own needs and feelings. He later moved in with his father and step-mother who seemed to love him very much and better met his needs, despite his father having addiction issues. His family was dysfunctional, but nothing shocking. I felt for the kid he was, ached for him when he described his pain and loneliness, but at the same time.... Well.... I think most people come from dysfunctional families, many with substance abuse like Mikel's, even more with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. This is not to say any child's suffering is insignificant or that just because someone suffers less than others, their feelings are not justified or their suffering diminished. However, I didn't see where Mikel's childhood was all that bad when compared with so many others and thus don't understand a book being published about it. It was probably cathartic for him to write this book, to work through his feelings and memories. However, it's nothing new, nothing that really sets him apart from thousands of others. The only thing remarkable is how exquisitely Mr Jollett writes. His descriptions are brilliant. That alone, however, does not make it a memorable memoir. Not for me anyway.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A brave coming-of-age story. What I loved most about this book was the fullness of the boy’s struggles, and how we see these struggles go from unconscious to conscious. His ambivalence towards his mother - the desire to be both loved and loving, yet free and separate enough to self-actualize - was particularly difficult under her specific mental health issues. If you want to know more, I suggest checking out this fantastic review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...? A brave coming-of-age story. What I loved most about this book was the fullness of the boy’s struggles, and how we see these struggles go from unconscious to conscious. His ambivalence towards his mother - the desire to be both loved and loving, yet free and separate enough to self-actualize - was particularly difficult under her specific mental health issues. If you want to know more, I suggest checking out this fantastic review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    I’m not sure that I have the words to describe my feelings after reading Mikel Jollett’s truly remarkable memoir Hollywood Park . The very first thing that caught my attention with this book was the title, as it shared a name with a place that I used to be very familiar with and it made me curious, whether it was merely a coincidence or actually a reference to what I thought it was. Even after reading the summary, I still wasn’t sure, as there was no mention of the inspiration for the title – I’m not sure that I have the words to describe my feelings after reading Mikel Jollett’s truly remarkable memoir Hollywood Park . The very first thing that caught my attention with this book was the title, as it shared a name with a place that I used to be very familiar with and it made me curious, whether it was merely a coincidence or actually a reference to what I thought it was. Even after reading the summary, I still wasn’t sure, as there was no mention of the inspiration for the title – all I knew was that Mikel and his brother Tony were born into a commune in California that later became the notorious Church of Synanon cult and this story was about their escape as well as the aftermath, following Mikel’s life as a child through adulthood. It wasn’t until a few chapters in, when Mikel wrote about him and his brother spending the summer months with their father Jim, who lived in Los Angeles, that I knew for sure what Hollywood Park referred to. For Mikel, the famous horse racing venue was a place of fond memories, where he got to spend a lot of quality time with his beloved father -- a former heroin addict and ex-con – and also where some of the most important father-son talks of his life occurred. But Mikel’s story went so much deeper than that – from escaping Synanon at 5 years old, through a childhood living with his emotionally abusive mother in Oregon, in conditions that exacerbated an already volatile relationship with his brother, then later living with his father and step-mother in California, Mikel experienced a coming-of-age fraught with struggles involving drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, delinquency, loneliness, neglect, and abuse (the latter of which had the most impact on him going into adulthood). Mikel Jollett’s memoir – the chronicle of his trials and tribulations, joys and triumphs -- resonated deeply with me on an especially personal level, to the point that I read much of the book with tears streaming down my face. Growing up in Los Angeles, I actually lived in Westchester and worked near the airport up until about 10 years ago, so I was quite familiar with many of the places mentioned in the book that, at one point or another, had a profound impact on Mikel’s journey: Orville Wright Junior High (now known as Orville Wright Middle School, this was a school my brother and I almost attended except that our parents decided later to put us in a private school instead), Westchester High (the school my brother attended for 4 years, and where my mom and I would wait in our one and only car in the parking lot every day to pick him up), the Red Onion on Manchester Avenue (a restaurant with great food that I remember eating at many times, which closed down decades ago), El Dorado Bowling Alley (which has since changed names and also owners), Playa Del Rey (a now mostly residential beachside town in Los Angeles), and of course, Hollywood Park (the former racetrack turned casino that will soon be the new home of the NFL team Los Angeles Rams). Hearing all these places mentioned again – places where I had spent countless childhood days – brought back so many memories, both good and bad. The part that resonated with me the most though, was Mikel’s detailed account of the devastating impact that his father’s addiction and his mother’s illness had on him and his brother. Despite my background being very different from Mikel’s, one commonality we do share (outside of spending most of our childhoods in Los Angeles) is that, for most of my life, I’ve also had to deal with a father with an addiction (not drugs, but gambling and drinking) as well as a mother whom I now realize (after decades trying to figure it out) has the same “illness” as Mikel’s mother. For so long, I’ve had many of the same warped experiences, feelings, emotions that Mikel went through, yet it’s not until now that I truly understand what has been happening. I am actually floored by how much clarity about my own life and my personal experiences that reading this memoir has given me. This was a heart-wrenching read for me, one that elicited so many emotions, yet I’m so glad I got the chance to read it. Most impressive to me is the way Mikel structured his story, which he narrates first from the perspective of a young child, then a teenager, and finally, an adult. By relaying his story in a way that reflects how he grew up and came to understand the world around him, Mikel Jollett gives us a raw and powerful account of his remarkable journey. I know for me, this is a memoir that, for sure, I won’t soon forget! Received ARC from Celadon Books as part of Early Reader program.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4.5] Hollywood Park is a song of a book - sad, sweet and filled with yearning. Jollet writes about his childhood and growing up with an immediacy that is breathtaking. The adults surrounding him are often broken but Jollett has the gift of seeing them as whole people. Like many memoirs, he tells a story of neglect and abuse but there is nothing ordinary about the way Jollet writes. I was frequently struck by the beauty of his words and didn't realize until near the end of the book that he is an [4.5] Hollywood Park is a song of a book - sad, sweet and filled with yearning. Jollet writes about his childhood and growing up with an immediacy that is breathtaking. The adults surrounding him are often broken but Jollett has the gift of seeing them as whole people. Like many memoirs, he tells a story of neglect and abuse but there is nothing ordinary about the way Jollet writes. I was frequently struck by the beauty of his words and didn't realize until near the end of the book that he is an accomplished songwriter and singer for the band Airborne Toxic Event (named after a section in DeLillo's book "White Noise.") In his book and through his music, Jollett makes art out of pain. I highly recommend listening to the audio version - among his other talents, Jollett is a wonderful narrator. I received an arc from @CeladonBooks and am so glad I have the hard copy to put on my shelves.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    5 🐎 🐎 🐎 🐎 🐎 This just might be the most courageous and impressive memoir on my Read shelf. The audio version read by the author was superlative. At it's heart and soul, this is the story of how to reclaim one's life and then run your own race with incredible grace. It took my breath away. Mikel, if you are reading this, thank you for sharing your story. I began my life in Westchester and later grew up in Inglewood. I spent time at Hollywood park with my dad. It took him until age 60 to get clean a 5 🐎 🐎 🐎 🐎 🐎 This just might be the most courageous and impressive memoir on my Read shelf. The audio version read by the author was superlative. At it's heart and soul, this is the story of how to reclaim one's life and then run your own race with incredible grace. It took my breath away. Mikel, if you are reading this, thank you for sharing your story. I began my life in Westchester and later grew up in Inglewood. I spent time at Hollywood park with my dad. It took him until age 60 to get clean and sober. His ashes are mixed in with your dad's at Santa Anita. Now I have to wonder how many DNA samples one might find on that track. I hope the two of them are discussing The Daily Racing Form and sharing stories about how proud of their kids they are.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vonda

    What an incredibly beautiful flowing poetic memoir by the creator of the band Airborne Toxic Event. His story which begins telling what it's like being raised in a C-U-L-T ,where you don't have a parent ,or normal human touch, or emotions, in one of the nations most dangeous cults. After his mother rescues him (or does she?), she subjects him to numerous forms of abuse which leads to abuse of his own. The writing wraps around you and draws you in like a warm blanket. Very highly recommended. What an incredibly beautiful flowing poetic memoir by the creator of the band Airborne Toxic Event. His story which begins telling what it's like being raised in a C-U-L-T ,where you don't have a parent ,or normal human touch, or emotions, in one of the nations most dangeous cults. After his mother rescues him (or does she?), she subjects him to numerous forms of abuse which leads to abuse of his own. The writing wraps around you and draws you in like a warm blanket. Very highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    Author Q & A on Book Nation by Jen https://booknationbyjen.com/2020/05/0... You won’t want to put down this honest, revealing, and incredible memoir, Hollywood Park as it follows Mikel Jollett from a commune turned cult in the 1970s to current day. Mikel and his older brother, Tony were born into Synanon, a cult that initially helped addicts like their father, but was ultimately shut down decades later due to violent criminal activities and legal problems. All the children living there were aband Author Q & A on Book Nation by Jen https://booknationbyjen.com/2020/05/0... You won’t want to put down this honest, revealing, and incredible memoir, Hollywood Park as it follows Mikel Jollett from a commune turned cult in the 1970s to current day. Mikel and his older brother, Tony were born into Synanon, a cult that initially helped addicts like their father, but was ultimately shut down decades later due to violent criminal activities and legal problems. All the children living there were abandoned by parents, fending for themselves and having nothing of their own. Mikel’s mother escaped with Mikel and Tony, ready to make a fresh start, but it was not easy. They went to live with the grandparents, and Mikel, young and hopeful, tried to have an open mind and understand his world. He was an old soul and was caring toward the woman who called herself Mom. In Synanon, Mikel was a baby and did have a caregiver he adored, but his older brother had been left without a mother for 7 years, and did not form an attachment with anybody. He was not well adjusted, exhibited bad behavior and had impulse control issues. Their mother had erratic behavior, showed signs of depression and mental illness. When she and her kids moved on from her parents and were on their own, she shacked up with multiple men, some abusive and poor role models, yet Mikel looked to each of them as a new father figure. Mikel’s real father was a drug addict, an ex-con and a philanderer and his mother reminded him of this as she brought these different men in and out of their lives throughout his childhood. Mikel spent the summers with his real father and they developed a wonderful and loving father/son relationship. Amidst all the upheaval, poverty and abuse he experienced during the times with his mother and brother, this connection to his biological father helped him make sense of his world and grounded him. About Jollett’s father…”this flawed, angry, funny, wise, and affectionate man is on my side no matter where I go or what I do. It’s the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.” The family relationships were very difficult to navigate and more often than not, there was disaster, destruction and emotional overload. From living on government assistance, being forced to kill rabbits for food and witnessing people getting beat up for leaving the cult, Jollett and his brother suffered greatly without any emotional support or therapy. Once an adult, Mikel Jollett spent a precious afternoon with his idol, David Bowie, while he was working for a magazine focused on music, and Bowie gave him some advice about writing. He told him to write about the contradiction. I believe Jollett did this beautifully and from the heart. Today Jollett is a writer and a musician, his brother a successful businessman and a father. It is amazing to me that he and his brother survived all the poverty, addiction and neglect. Jollett persevered and he also learned the power of love and family. Hollywood Park brought so many tears, I was crying for all Mikel Jollett lost, a great hope for his future, his honesty and his kind heart. This is a powerful story – a must read! Author Q & A on Book Nation by Jen https://booknationbyjen.com/2020/05/0...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    This fascinating memoir documenting a broken family’s path back to normal while peeking behind the curtain of the Church of Syanon packs a powerful punch. Mikel was born into the cult and was 4 years old when his mother snuck him and older brother Tony out of the compound under dark of night. Syanon was originally envisioned as a drug rehab facility and in time turned violent. Kudos to the boys’ mother who though psychologically impaired, found the courage to leave, saving the boys’ lives. The na This fascinating memoir documenting a broken family’s path back to normal while peeking behind the curtain of the Church of Syanon packs a powerful punch. Mikel was born into the cult and was 4 years old when his mother snuck him and older brother Tony out of the compound under dark of night. Syanon was originally envisioned as a drug rehab facility and in time turned violent. Kudos to the boys’ mother who though psychologically impaired, found the courage to leave, saving the boys’ lives. The naivety of Mikel and Tony were glaringly apparent. So many things that I take for granted, like riding in a car or going to a restaurant were things of wonder for Mikel as he was exposed to living on the ‘outside’ and learning the concept of a real family. A quick read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    In the past few years, I’ve developed a deep love for any memoir in which someone details their crazy childhood and how they managed to rise above it. While they are radically different, Hollywood Park is joining Educated as one of my favorites in this random subgenre for which I’ve developed such a fondness. Hearing about Mikel Jollett’s earliest years was incredibly illuminating, and was yet another true story that made me so incredibly thankful for the wonderful, easy childhood I had, and how In the past few years, I’ve developed a deep love for any memoir in which someone details their crazy childhood and how they managed to rise above it. While they are radically different, Hollywood Park is joining Educated as one of my favorites in this random subgenre for which I’ve developed such a fondness. Hearing about Mikel Jollett’s earliest years was incredibly illuminating, and was yet another true story that made me so incredibly thankful for the wonderful, easy childhood I had, and how foundational that gilded upbringing was in my becoming the person I am today. “Those nights I just go blank, like I could tie every bad thing inside me to a balloon and just let it float up into the sky, disappearing beyond the clouds.” I wish I could go back in time and save the child Jollett was during the opening chapters of his book. He tells the heartbreaking story of his childhood with grace and honesty and humor. I can’t even fathom having my earliest memories involving childhood in a cult., being broken out of said cult by my mother in the middle of the night. And I really can’t imagine a mother who is so self-absorbed, to the point of mental illness, that life in the cult was healthier than life outside of it. Even know Jollett obviously survived his childhood, as he couldn’t have written this memoir otherwise, but there were times I was genuinely concerned about his wellbeing as I read. Such was the power of his voice as a storyteller. “‘C-U-L-T’ is such an ugly word. It looks like the C is spitting the U right at the L. The T is standing still with its arms out, trying to keep its distance from the other letters. They don’t seem like four letters that want to be in the same word together. Maybe that’s why everyone looks so mad when they say it.” This memoir is written so beautifully. You can tell that Jollett is a musician and songwriter. There’s a beautiful rhythm to the prose, and so many sentences struck me as lyrics hiding within a story. Hollywood Park is yet another book that I heavily annotated, as there were countless lines, and sometimes entire paragraphs, that were too beautiful to read past without acknowledging that beauty in some way, even if that acknowledgment was merely highlighting those lines. Or calling my mom and reading those lines to her over the phone. I did a whole lot of that. “It’s a strange word. F-A-M-I-L-Y. It’s big and comforting and each letter is different. Just look at it. The F is for father right at the front. The M for mother is in the middle, connecting all the others. It’s a long word but usually people say it in one breath, like “famly” as if the I doesn’t matter. Without the F it’s just “ambly,” a thing that ambles around from place to place. Without the M it’s just a “Fably,” which is a story about something that does not exist…. The word seems to me like a cave, something big and simple you an walk inside to get away from a storm called loneliness.” My second favorite type of memoir, outside of the crazy childhoods and surviving them, is anything around the creation of art. Whether coming from the perspective of an author or a musician or an actor or a painter, I’m fascinated by not only the creation process, but what aspects of said artist’s life is the source of their inspiration. Jollett did a wonderful job explaining his songwriting process, and how both difficult and cathartic writing has been for him. “Why be normal? Destroy yourself and dance in the embers. Embrace the catharsis. Use it.” I loved hearing how inspired Jollett was by music as a young teen, and how he felt saved by it. I related to that on a soul-deep level. While I might not have gravitated toward the same type of artist that so drew Jollett, David Bowie and The Cure and such, I remember feeling so understood and seen by certain artists as a teen. Music has always been the language of my heart, and certain songs have gotten me through some terrible times in my life. I’m glad that Jollett found that same refuge, and then took that solace even further and found a way to not only verbalize his struggles through song lyrics, but to share those with the world. “That’s the whole magic trick of an essence brought to life by a song, to become an artist when you feel broken and you’ve decided to turn it into beauty. To make the pain useful… too broken to be normal, just broken enough to see beauty.” Mikel Jollett’s story is such a poignant one. I was moved to tears throughout the entirety of this memoir. While there was too much strong language for me to feel comfortable recommending it to anyone in my family, it’s a book I definitely intend to return to, whether to read from start to finish or to simply flip back through all of those beautiful lines I highlighted. Hollywood Park is a hard story powerfully told. You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This was a very well written memoir, just wonderful and kept my interest from beginning to end. It’s yet another one that I read at one go! It tells the story of a family’s spending their early years in the unusual environment of the cultish group Church of Synanon, affected their later years. The group started out as a drug rehab and the family went there so the father could get off heroin. Both author Mikel Jollett and his brother were put into what was called The School, but it was basically This was a very well written memoir, just wonderful and kept my interest from beginning to end. It’s yet another one that I read at one go! It tells the story of a family’s spending their early years in the unusual environment of the cultish group Church of Synanon, affected their later years. The group started out as a drug rehab and the family went there so the father could get off heroin. Both author Mikel Jollett and his brother were put into what was called The School, but it was basically an orphanage where a group of women cared for the children. The parents were sent off to do various other jobs in the organization, and were only occasionally allowed to visit the children. This started from the age of 6 months, and went on until Mikel was like 5, and his older brother was 7 or so and more greatly affected. Their parents split when the father took up with another woman in the group, and they eventually divorced. They had both became disillusioned with the leader of Synanon and escaped from it. The mother took the boys to Oregon. This is such a good memoir, I hope it gets a lot of reads. There is so much more after this beginning, but I want you to read it for yourself. I do highly recommend this book. I look forward to checking out some of his other writing now, and may as well sample some of his band’s music as well while I’m at it.   I’m on another lucky streak again with my ARC’s! Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Mikel Jollet, and Celadon .

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Fair warning: I received a free ARC of this book from the fine folks at Celadon Books. I’ve forgotten exactly what I did to get onto their advance reader list, but details are probably listed somewhere on their website. #HollywoodParkMemoir, #CeladonReads, #partner I knew absolutely nothing going into this. Never heard of Mikel Jollett or his band, the Airborne Toxic Event, before. Hadn't read any advance descriptions of the book. Nothing. It just showed up on my doorstep one day. Boom. After read Fair warning: I received a free ARC of this book from the fine folks at Celadon Books. I’ve forgotten exactly what I did to get onto their advance reader list, but details are probably listed somewhere on their website. #HollywoodParkMemoir, #CeladonReads, #partner I knew absolutely nothing going into this. Never heard of Mikel Jollett or his band, the Airborne Toxic Event, before. Hadn't read any advance descriptions of the book. Nothing. It just showed up on my doorstep one day. Boom. After reading it, my first thought was, “Wow!” My second was to wonder just how it is that I’ve never heard of this man before? I’m definitely curious about the band now (Note to friends and family: See? I really haven't heard of EVERY band out there. No one has. It's impossible to keep track of them all.) Jollett was one of many young children caught up in the infamous Synanon cult along with their parents. After escaping, he and his brother and mother went into hiding, living in poverty for many years. It's the story of his life, from his earliest memories up to the present day. What makes the book such a joy and a delight is the writing. Jollett has a real gift for putting you in the moment and conveying emotion. I rarely get so into a book that I’m on the verge of tears, but this book was an exception. I didn't just read it; I felt it. Raw nerves and emotions sharp as broken glass … As with any life, there are ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs, moments of pain and of shocking beauty, intervals of frantic activity, and stretches of boredom. Some scenes will thrill you with the shock of recognition, while others will be completely new to your experience. But, thanks to this book, you get to know what it's like to live through them all. Honestly, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Highly recommended!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    Have you ever read a memoir of someone who you’d never heard of?⁣ ⁣ That was me, going into Hollywood Park.⁣ ⁣ I didn’t know who Mikel Jollett was. I had never heard of his band The Airborne Toxic Event. I had no idea what I was getting into.⁣ ⁣ Let me tell you what I got into.⁣ ⁣ After escaping from a violent religious cult very young, Mikel’s subsequent tumultuous upbringing is anything but healthy. A physically absent father, an emotionally absent mother, and stream of emotionally abusive stepdads ro Have you ever read a memoir of someone who you’d never heard of?⁣ ⁣ That was me, going into Hollywood Park.⁣ ⁣ I didn’t know who Mikel Jollett was. I had never heard of his band The Airborne Toxic Event. I had no idea what I was getting into.⁣ ⁣ Let me tell you what I got into.⁣ ⁣ After escaping from a violent religious cult very young, Mikel’s subsequent tumultuous upbringing is anything but healthy. A physically absent father, an emotionally absent mother, and stream of emotionally abusive stepdads round out the lack of any substantial role models in his life. Poverty, addiction, abuse, and so many other cards are stacked against this young boy. But the love he has for his family is fierce, and while the life he leads may be full of continuous heartbreaks, you will root for him the entire time and cheer for the snippets of good peppered throughout.⁣ Mikel’s memoir is written from the time he escapes the cult, to present day and it is abundantly clear he is a musician. The prose is beautiful, and lyrical, and reads like a song. The audio is STUNNING, and has snippets of music that make you feel like you are watching everything unfold as if in a movie.⁣ ⁣ I was riveted from the second I picked up this book. I now know who Mikel is. His story is raw, and vulnerable, and pretty wild! I have now downloaded several of his songs. I’ve googled him, and cults, more times than I’d like to admit! And this might just be one of my favorite memoirs ever.⁣

  29. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    I wasn’t keen on this misery memoir from the start. The first eight chapters, written in the present-tense and in the forced, affectedly naive first-person voice of a young child, were a real slog. Then I got to Chapter 9, in which that child is made to confront “the cycle of life” by learning how to slaughter young rabbits raised for food. It completely horrified me. I couldn’t bear it. That was enough.

  30. 4 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    I love reading autobiographies and memoirs of musicians. I find that people who can express themselves lyrically can generally tell their story in a unique and meaningful way. Plus, it’s nice to read about their creative journey, their childhood, their band-mates. Some of the best of this genre have been written by artists I'd already been a fan of before reading their books - Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello. But Mikel Jollett? Who the heck was he? I thought I’d heard of his ba I love reading autobiographies and memoirs of musicians. I find that people who can express themselves lyrically can generally tell their story in a unique and meaningful way. Plus, it’s nice to read about their creative journey, their childhood, their band-mates. Some of the best of this genre have been written by artists I'd already been a fan of before reading their books - Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello. But Mikel Jollett? Who the heck was he? I thought I’d heard of his band, the California-based The Airborne Toxic Event, but if you’d ask me to name one of their songs, I couldn’t. Nevertheless, the book sounded interesting so I started listening to the music and read the book. Turns out, Hollywood Park is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. And unlike any other. You may have heard of the Synanon cult. It gained notoriety in the early 1960’s as a community where drug addicts went to be rehabilitated. By the 1970’s it had turned into something sinister. One of the more bizarre and cruel aspects was that children were separated from their parents at the age of six months and raised separately, rarely seeing them. At some point, pregnant women were forced to have abortions. Welcome to the early childhood of Mikel Jollett and his brother Tony. Their mother eventually took the boys and escaped to Oregon. What follows is a remarkable story of an extremely smart and understandably damaged boy trying to survive life with a mother also suffering from her own personal hell who brings into the household troubled men who are far from father figures. Mikel eventually moves to California and develops a close relationship with his newly clean and straight father and his extended family. It’s a tragic yet hopeful story. It is impossible to imagine what it was like to go through what the author experienced and to have the courage to tell his story. In a recent interview Jollett said, “I want this to be a thing that lives in the world because then it doesn’t just have to live in me.” In addition to the book, Jollett and The Airborne Toxic Event just released their sixth studio album also named Hollywood Park . “The record is a soundtrack to the book, an hour-long concept record taken from scenes from the book, from my attempt to make sense of the forces which have touched my life,” notes Jollett. Like the book, the album is great. I highly recommend the beautifully written Hollywood Park. And be sure to check out The Airborne Toxic Event. Review posted on MicheleReader.com

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.