**THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**
“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
"Several years ago, Jollett began writing Hollywood Park, the gripping and brutally honest memoir of his life. Published in the middle of the pandemic, it has gone on to become one of the summer’s most celebrated books and a New York Times best seller..."
–Los Angeles Magazine
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Mikel Jollett’s life is hard to wrap your head around. Born into the insidious Synanon cult and raised first by church handlers and then by a narcissistic and emotionally abusive mother, the longtime front man of the Airborne Toxic Event lived with the ever-present knowledge of his father’s and older brother’s drug addictions. In his fascinating and heart-wrenching memoir, he opens up about these experiences in aching detail, tracking his path from poverty-stricken youth to indie-rock stardom without ever shying away from the ugly truths about the lingering shadow of trauma. What really strikes us is how Jollett was able to write about each period of his life in a distinct voice that mirrors his point of view at the time. He narrates earlier memories with a young boy’s limited vocabulary and understanding before shifting to a teenager’s rebelliousness and then a wiser and more mature perspective as he reaches adulthood. Traveling with Jollett on his harrowing journey as he finally finds both inspiration and escape in the world of music is an unforgettable experience. The Airborne Toxic Event even released a companion album of the same name to accompany this deeply personal ride—though the sheer power of Hollywood Park will already speak to all of your senses.
In this arresting debut memoir, Jollett, frontman of the indie band Airborne Toxic Event, writes of escaping a California cult named Synanon where he lived in the 1970s until age five with his mentally unstable mother and older brother. He recalls his impoverished, lonely youth; his family's struggles with addiction; his challenging relationship with his parents; and the ways music and therapy saved him. Synanon started out as a commune and a drug and alcohol treatment facility (Jollett's father was treated there for heroin addiction) but became a cult when the facility's leader became more domineering and began forcing parents and their children to live in separate locations. While there, Jollett and his brother were left in the care of various cult members and rarely saw their parents. Jollett engagingly narrates his story, which includes living, after leaving Synanon, in Oregon with his mother, a needy narcissist who brainwashed him into believing that kids take care of their moms, not the other way around; loving his father while hoping to never be like him; and dealing with his addict brother. Jollett also talks about turning pain into music, getting help for abandonment issues, and finding love and starting a family. All this results in a shocking but contemplative memoir about the aftermath of an unhealthy upbringing. Due to a production error, this review originally published without its star.
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.
Jollett did a astonishing job in taking us through his story without robbing us of the innocence of his childhood self and then further into the book of his complex young adult self. The book itself was well articulated but a bit hard to follow at times.