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Publisher Description


“A Gen-X This Boy’s Life...Music and his fierce brilliance boost Jollett; a visceral urge to leave his background behind propels him to excel... In the end, Jollett shakes off the past to become the captain of his own soul. Hollywood Park is a triumph."
O, The Oprah Magazine

"This moving and profound memoir is for anyone who loves a good redemption story."
—Good Morning America, 20 Books We're Excited for in 2020

“Jollett engagingly narrates his story...result[ing] in a shocking but contemplative memoir about the aftermath of an unhealthy upbringing.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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.

Biographies & Memoirs
May 26
Celadon Books

Customer Reviews

Shelly92084 ,

Hollywood Park Review

I’m not really a fan of memoirs but I was sent a copy of this book and decided to check it out based on the blurb. The author was in a cult called Synanon. I never heard of that cult before so I looked it up and talk about intense.

The the story starts off with the author leaving the cult and adjusting to life on the outside. If I’m being honest I would have preferred what his life was like during the cult so I could get a better understanding. The chapters are written from a child’s perspective and that was tough for me to get into reading wise. I eventually switched over to the audio version and was able to continue with the story this way.

I must say this memoir was rather on the depressing side. It dealt with a lot of heavy topics and issues. Mikel and his brother, Tony needed some therapy, love and support that they didn’t seem to get from his mother. From what I read I liked Bonnie (his dad’s girlfriend or wife) and she seemed to really care for the boys. I had reservations if I wanted to continue with this memoir but I’m happy I did. There was definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. The author Mikel Jollett narrates this audio book and he did a great job. I liked the musical touches as well. Makes me want to check out his band.

Drug Use

GinaGay17 ,

A Journey

This book takes you on a journey of a life from the sad lonely little boy with a brother who escape from a cult with their mother that they barely knew. It brings you into the perspective of a little boy’s mind as he tries to navigate through life alone, his mother has severe mental illness and is unable to provide the normal type of support, love and guidance that a child needs from a parent. It takes him his lifetime to figure this out and come to terms with it. It explores all of the confusion of trying to figure out normal life, relationships, family and emotions that are even more confusing to him because of his early childhood of being a “child of the universe” in a crazy cult where children of the cult members were separated from their parents and left alone as orphans in a “school” where only an academic education was provided...and no normal love or emotional support that children need. This book is a great psychological study about mental abuse, depression, addiction and coping mechanisms. It is also a story about triumph, forgiveness, self forgiveness and self discovery. I think there are parts of it at different times in Jollette’s life that everyone can relate to especially his teenage years. lt is a wonderful story about the bonds he developed with his father, step mother and brother as he grew up and becomes an adult and father himself. I loved the story of his life as well as the openness that he writes with about his struggles as he finds himself and his place in the world and inner peace. I love how he wrote the book and tells his story through the eyes and dialogue of the age that he his at the time in his life during each part of the book. It really made you feel as if you were actually there living through the experiences with him. That really captivated my attention throughout the entire book. This book was not only an autobiography but and exploration in psychology, emotions and family.