Hollywood Park
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.

Hollywood Park Details

TitleHollywood Park
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 26th, 2020
PublisherCeladon Books
ISBN-139781250621566
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography

Hollywood Park Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    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
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  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    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.ukIf 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.comJollett 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.coJollett 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 pagesAs 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.comJollett 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 WeeklyReview posted – May 15, 2020Publication date – May 5, 2020I 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.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Author Mikel JollettMikel Jollett, frontman for the indie rock band Airborne Toxic Event, had a tumultuous childhood. Airborne Toxic EventMikel Jollett performingJollett'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." SynanonSynanon started as a rehab facility for drug addictsSynanon's mission was to change the world Author Mikel JollettMikel Jollett, frontman for the indie rock band Airborne Toxic Event, had a tumultuous childhood. Airborne Toxic EventMikel Jollett performingJollett'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." SynanonSynanon started as a rehab facility for drug addictsSynanon'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 JimMikel'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 JimMikel and Tony with their father JimMikel'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 headsLife 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 rabbitRabbit stewBesides 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 meetingsTony, 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 JollettMikel with his father and brotherIn 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....
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    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
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!!
    January 1, 1970
    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, 2020Thank 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.
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Valerity (Val)
    January 1, 1970
    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 .
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  • Jennifer Blankfein
    January 1, 1970
    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...
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of this author or his music. That didn't stop me from being absolutely captivated by his story. Often, artists from another genre are unable to communicate as well in a book, but Jollett is a magnificent writer. He is able to convey the deep pain he felt during his childhood that carried into life as an adult. His introspection is so very real, and although this is his story, the emotions he conveys are universal and I found myself nodding in agreeme Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of this author or his music. That didn't stop me from being absolutely captivated by his story. Often, artists from another genre are unable to communicate as well in a book, but Jollett is a magnificent writer. He is able to convey the deep pain he felt during his childhood that carried into life as an adult. His introspection is so very real, and although this is his story, the emotions he conveys are universal and I found myself nodding in agreement with his words many times. I highly recommend this memoir.I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from #celadonreads. All opinions are my own.
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  • Stewart Tame
    January 1, 1970
    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, #partnerI 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, #partnerI 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!
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Celadon Books, Libro.fm for providing me with a copy of this novel for review purposes. This memoir is a gift that keeps on giving. Beautifully descriptive writing that places you in the shoes and heart of the author. This was not what I was expecting, and I was beyond impressed! Plot: Hollywood Park is a memoir by Mikel Jollett, front man of the band Airborne Toxic Event. Jollet was born into the Church of Synanon, one of America's most infamous cults, and subjected to Thank you to Celadon Books, Libro.fm for providing me with a copy of this novel for review purposes. This memoir is a gift that keeps on giving. Beautifully descriptive writing that places you in the shoes and heart of the author. This was not what I was expecting, and I was beyond impressed! Plot: Hollywood Park is a memoir by Mikel Jollett, front man of the band Airborne Toxic Event. Jollet was born into the Church of Synanon, one of America's most infamous cults, and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Per the cult leader's mandate, all children are removed from their parents at six months old, and handed over to the cults 'school', where they are cared for by rotating shifts of female members. Parents visit rarely; the goal? To create and independent generation. Escaping from Synanon with his mother and brother at the age of 4, life outside of the cult is anything but normal. A childhood filled with emotional abuse, raised by family members struggling with depression, addiction and trauma and the lure of alochol, drugs and antics of misfit children from broken homes, Jollet slowly builds a life away from these traps. Focusing on school and sports, eventually Jollett gets to University, his own relationships, and eventually, to music and writing. 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.Mikel Jollett - Hollywood Park This memoir does contain memories of drug use, violence and slaughter of animals for food. I did not find these passage to be gory in their description, but were recollections from a child's perspective. Review: When I initially picked this one up, I thought it was going to be much more about the cult of the Church of Synanon, and when it wasn't, I was surpisingly pleased. There is no doubt that such a start in life has long term affects, but rarely do we get to hear of the perspectives of members. In my reading of cults I usually come across accounts from the justice system, investigators, leaders of the cults and their story, or women that have escaped. Very rarely do I get to hear of a male survivors story. Jollet has incredible introspection on this life, and this was key in this book. The recollections told in present tense (from a his perspective as a young child, to youth, teen and finally adult) were interlaced with hindsight commentary. The prose was beautifully poetic, and made for enjoyable reading despite some of the more trying chapters. It is tough to read some of the situations, Jollet grew up in a family where each member had their own battles, with depression, addiction or the affects of trauma. Jollet, as the youngest, was on the receiving end of his mothers narcissism, and of his brothers bullying. Though its impossible to dislike anyone entirely, as we know their history and the situations that have influenced their lives. This memoir really highlighted that trauma is generational. Not to go too much on a tangent, but this is key in so many discussions today. You cannot always draw a line in the sand and "get over things". Even if a traumatic event occurs before your time, the effects of it are passed down generation to generation.Jollet describes the effort he puts in to change his lives path, and I found this particularly inspiring. However, he did not escape entirely, and recalls romantic relationships he had as he grew up, and the toxic behavior he displayed in these. In the end, Jollett does win against all odds - and they really were stacked against him. He proves that you can take the lead in creating your path in life. Despite the hardships, there is an immense amount of love and loyalty in his life. Jollett reminisces on many latchkey-kid escapades that had me laughing out loud. Overall, I was highly impressed with this memoir. I can see myself reading it again, and discussing the many themes and topics that it touches on. I commend the author for sharing his story. It gave me so much insight and I truly enjoyed reading this. Hollywood Park comes out May 26th, I recommend pre-ordering a copy! If you like audiobooks, it is also available on Libro.fm, narrated by Mikel Jollett. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Hollywood Park. Have you read this? Tell me what you thought!    Feel free to comment below or on my 'bookstagram' at @ReadWithWine . This review was originally posted on ReadWithWine
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    ***Happy Pub Day to one of my top favorite reads of 2020! I hear Mikel Jollett narrates the audio and some of his brilliant music is involved! I’m tempted to splurge on that for a reread!***“Everyone I love is broken. Or was. That’s how we recognize each other.” Mikel Jollett, frontman for The Airborne Toxic Event, began his life in a cult, separated from his parents, spending his early years being shaped by an isolating environment until his mother escaped one night with him and his brother. Hi ***Happy Pub Day to one of my top favorite reads of 2020! I hear Mikel Jollett narrates the audio and some of his brilliant music is involved! I’m tempted to splurge on that for a reread!***“Everyone I love is broken. Or was. That’s how we recognize each other.” Mikel Jollett, frontman for The Airborne Toxic Event, began his life in a cult, separated from his parents, spending his early years being shaped by an isolating environment until his mother escaped one night with him and his brother. His life did not become easier then, as his mother carried her own heavy baggage that led to emotional abuse and negligence paired with unrealistic expectations for him to fulfill as her caretaker. His early experiences were horrific and took a toxic toll, even after he was able to leave her to live with his father. I do not think I’ve said this of a memoir before but I did not want this book to end. If I could have consumed it in small doses forever without ever reaching the last page, I would have. It’s a thing of beauty, this book. A song that you keep on replay. An Independence Day fireworks display - it starts out spectacular and just gets better as it ends. Mikel Jollett shares his story with a keen sense of self-awareness and a good dose of humility. He acknowledges his own shortcomings, the way his own pain hurt others, and the challenging steps he had to take to find healing. I enjoy reading memoirs but there are certain specifics that appeal to me within this genre. I like to read memoirs about overcoming hardships, especially abuse, but I want more than just a story of difficulty and triumph. I want to know exactly how those experiences made them feel. I want the battered, bleeding heart of it all. Jollett delivers on all counts. He pulled me into the depth of his emotions and I could feel the words that he wrote. This is truly a powerful book.I loved how Jollett told the story of his early years through a child’s perspective, providing a painfully clear understanding of his inability to properly process things at such a young age. As he ages in the narrative, the storytelling method matures, eventually becoming rich with poetic depth and hard-earned wisdom. The experience of reading about Jollett’s life was quite immersive, overwhelmingly sad, and breathtakingly beautiful.Hollywood Park will be added to my list of favorite memoirs. This book meant so much to me. I am grateful that Mikel Jollett has welcomed all of us into this private, vulnerable world. My own world might be a little better because of it.I received this advance reading copy from Celadon Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Audrey
    January 1, 1970
    An unflinchingly honest memoir about how the first few years of a child’s life will effect his adulthood. Jollet and his brother were raised in, essentially, an orphanage that was part of a cult. Taken out as young children, by their narcissistic mother, and hiding from the cult, the two had tumultuous childhoods before moving in with their father, a former drug addict and ex-convict. They each struggled in their own way and he manages to analyze his life with very little judgment or condemnatio An unflinchingly honest memoir about how the first few years of a child’s life will effect his adulthood. Jollet and his brother were raised in, essentially, an orphanage that was part of a cult. Taken out as young children, by their narcissistic mother, and hiding from the cult, the two had tumultuous childhoods before moving in with their father, a former drug addict and ex-convict. They each struggled in their own way and he manages to analyze his life with very little judgment or condemnation. What especially came through was his love for his father, stepmother, brother and his extended family and how they supported him over the years. I enjoyed Jollet’s self reflections as well as the effective change in voice as he grew. His musical influences were fascinating to me and helped explain why I like his music.I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.
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  • Vonda
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)
    January 1, 1970
    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.⁣
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  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com.Musician Mikel Jollett didn’t have an easy childhood. In his upcoming memoir, titled Hollywood Park, he tells his story. It’s a moving exposition of many topics, from cults to chronic depression, addiction, and the power of family to both hurt and heal. Jollett’s writing seems honest to a fault, while delicately balancing the book’s overall mood.When he was just six months old, his parents were members of a cult that separated kids from pa Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com.Musician Mikel Jollett didn’t have an easy childhood. In his upcoming memoir, titled Hollywood Park, he tells his story. It’s a moving exposition of many topics, from cults to chronic depression, addiction, and the power of family to both hurt and heal. Jollett’s writing seems honest to a fault, while delicately balancing the book’s overall mood.When he was just six months old, his parents were members of a cult that separated kids from parents. In essence, he was raised in a setting similar to an orphanage. When his mom left the cult and scooped Jollett and his older brother up, the situation only improved marginally. She and the kids lived in and out of poverty, with a revolving door of men in her life. They raised rabbits for food, shopped at Goodwill, and Jollett was shoehorned into a role as her protector and confessor. Not much of the situation was appropriate for a kid not even 10 years old.Soon after, Jollett and his older brother move to the Los Angeles area to live with their dad and soon-to-be stepmom. The difference between households is stark. And, though the L.A. family situation isn’t perfect, it’s better. In that home, Jollett gets involved more deeply in alcohol in drugs. He and his dad connect over bets and horse racing. But he also ends up diving into his high school studies and going to Stanford University.I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but his path to success as the front man in an L.A.-based indie rock band, Airborne Toxic Event, is a unique and compelling story.My conclusionsThis book is a slow burn. The intensity of each story and situation drew me in and wouldn’t let go. Jollett emits both sadness and strength, even as a small kid. And he’s also deeply vulnerable. This is an author willing to flay open his heart and let us look at each moment of weakness and pain. Doing so only made me hope more for his ability to beat back his demons and rise above.It’s impossible not to care about this man revisiting his childhood and teen years. As Jollett describes people, events, and his own feelings, I wanted to transport the boy away from the difficulties. But dealing with everything has made him who his is today.I appreciated Jollett’s honest depiction of mental health and addiction crises. He doesn’t glorify either situation, instead showing both the ups and the downs. I give him a lot of credit for discussing his process in talk therapy as well.If you like an emotional coming-of-age memoir, this is a solid choice. Watch for it in May of 2020.Pair with Barbarian Days by William Finnegan for a different California childhood. Or Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming for a difficult childhood transcended by performing.AcknowledgementsMany thanks to Celadon Books and the author for the opportunity to read an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Nina
    January 1, 1970
    Hollywood Park is a gripping and unforgettable memoir of Mikel Jollett's colorful life. He takes us into the early beginnings of his childhood where he grew up in a cult, escaped, and experienced many hardships throughout his life, wrapped around instability, rejection, abuse, poverty, and addiction.This particular one stuck out to me because it truly focuses on family and finding love, internally and externally. I did a lot of self-reflection while reading this one and it made me realize how gr Hollywood Park is a gripping and unforgettable memoir of Mikel Jollett's colorful life. He takes us into the early beginnings of his childhood where he grew up in a cult, escaped, and experienced many hardships throughout his life, wrapped around instability, rejection, abuse, poverty, and addiction.This particular one stuck out to me because it truly focuses on family and finding love, internally and externally. I did a lot of self-reflection while reading this one and it made me realize how grateful I am for the little things I have, especially a safe and stable household.I applaud Jollett's ability to overcome his past and speak about his personal struggles, particularly his fear of attachment and addictions. His bravery emanated through these pages, and it is certainly a memoir that I will never forget.Thank you to Celadon Reads and Libro.fm for an ARC and ALC of this book. All opinions are my own.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    So I don’t tend to read a ton of memoirs but when I do I love to listen to them on audio. A good amount of the ones I’ve listened to have been narrates by the authors themselves and there’s something so intimate about listening to them tell their story in their own words and voice. I started reading my physical copy of this one and quickly switched to the audio and I’m so glad I did, it was incredibly well done and the musical additions added something special to this raw and compelling story. T So I don’t tend to read a ton of memoirs but when I do I love to listen to them on audio. A good amount of the ones I’ve listened to have been narrates by the authors themselves and there’s something so intimate about listening to them tell their story in their own words and voice. I started reading my physical copy of this one and quickly switched to the audio and I’m so glad I did, it was incredibly well done and the musical additions added something special to this raw and compelling story. There was something haunting about the writing style and I really appreciated the authors candid style and raw emotion.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    This book is beautifully written. I knew nothing of Mikel Jollett prior to reading his memoir. I had read only the brief description of the book, and added it to my To Read list. I then received an advanced reader copy through a Goodreads giveaway, and I’m so glad I did. This book reads almost like Jollett’s stream of consciousness as he remembers his childhood and early adulthood. I’m glad that I didn’t know anything about him, or the person that he has become. I became engrossed in each phase This book is beautifully written. I knew nothing of Mikel Jollett prior to reading his memoir. I had read only the brief description of the book, and added it to my To Read list. I then received an advanced reader copy through a Goodreads giveaway, and I’m so glad I did. This book reads almost like Jollett’s stream of consciousness as he remembers his childhood and early adulthood. I’m glad that I didn’t know anything about him, or the person that he has become. I became engrossed in each phase of his life, not knowing what would come next, and wanting it to turn out the way I hoped. Although Jollett’s story starts in a cult, and the cult has a ripple effect throughout much of his life, it’s not the details of the cult that make this story interesting. In fact, he only sprinkles the details of the cult into his telling of it. He was young, and it takes him years to understand what the cult actually was.What makes the story so gripping is how Jollett describes his emotions and his way of seeing the world. First through the eyes of a child, and then as he matures into a man. His choice of words and use of metaphors stirred such strong emotion in me. There wasn’t one page or paragraph of this book that I skimmed over or skipped. I cheered for Jollett on his sixteenth birthday (and said aloud, “FINALLY.”) I wept through the last 30 pages of the book. And I honestly didn’t realize until much closer to the end just who this book was really about. After finishing the book, I found some of Mikel Jollett’s music, and discovered that his wordsmithing and storytelling come through there, as well. I’m now not just a fan of his memoir, but a fan of his music.
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  • Catherine Woodward
    January 1, 1970
    *Many thanks to Bookish First, Celadon, and Mikel Jollett for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 5.26!*The best memoirs read like fiction, and Mikel Jollett's Hollywood Park is no exception. Though some may pick up this book because they are interested in the Airborne Toxic Event or because they are fascinated by cults, this memoir goes so far beyond a simple 'behind the music' story or sensationalist exposition. It is a heavy read with little levity to break up the sadness, so I had to ta *Many thanks to Bookish First, Celadon, and Mikel Jollett for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 5.26!*The best memoirs read like fiction, and Mikel Jollett's Hollywood Park is no exception. Though some may pick up this book because they are interested in the Airborne Toxic Event or because they are fascinated by cults, this memoir goes so far beyond a simple 'behind the music' story or sensationalist exposition. It is a heavy read with little levity to break up the sadness, so I had to take it in over the course of several sittings, but Jollett's literary prowess shines from page one until its bittersweet end. He explores what it means to truly be family, the healing power of music and its ability to unite, and the importance of speaking your truth. Jollett describes how his relationship with his father, his stepfathers, his brother and his mother all have shaped him into the introspective and thoughtful person he is today through expertly chosen vignettes from different points in his life. He handles sensitive topics like race relations, addiction, and mental health struggles with careful consideration and thorough reflection. After reading this memoir, I really feel as though I know him and definitely will listen to his music with new perspective. This is a stunning and powerful book, and I would highly recommend it!
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  • Greg Zimmerman
    January 1, 1970
    First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c...In a scene midway through Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett's incredible memoir, Mikel and his father are at the eponymous Hollywood Park horse racetrack. Mikel is 13 years old, has just been in a really bad accident, and has had some issues with acting out, drugs, and alcohol. His father, a former addict and drug dealer, who has gotten his life back together, quietly, in a moment of rare earnestness, tells Mikel, "Don't fuck it up. Don't do First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c...In a scene midway through Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett's incredible memoir, Mikel and his father are at the eponymous Hollywood Park horse racetrack. Mikel is 13 years old, has just been in a really bad accident, and has had some issues with acting out, drugs, and alcohol. His father, a former addict and drug dealer, who has gotten his life back together, quietly, in a moment of rare earnestness, tells Mikel, "Don't fuck it up. Don't do what I did. Do something better."This sounds simple, and almost cliché, but it's so powerful given what's come before. It's one of my favorite moments in this memoir chock full of moments while reading I had to put the book down for a minute, just to make sure I absorbed. To put it bluntly: This book is so damn good — my favorite read of the year. It's as well-written, heart-wrenching, intelligent, and just downright entertaining as anything I've read in a long time. Mikel's childhood was, in a word, tough. Let's start with the cult: He and his older brother Tony are born into they Synanon cult, which began in the late 1950s as a sort of alternative drug rehabilitation organization. This is what drew Mikel's parents in the mid-1970s. But the mid-1970s were also when the organization morphed into something much more nefarious, as cults are wont to do. Mikel and his brother were separated from their parents and raised in an orphanage, until when Mikel was six years old, his mother decided to leave and broke them out. He didn't really know his mother at the time, or really even understand the concept of "parent."From there, after witnessing a horrific incident of violence, his mother, brother, and him move to rainy, depressing Salem, Oregon, where they live in poverty. His mother's new partner Paul is a recovering alcoholic who has occasional relapses, disappearing for days at a time. They raise rabbits in their backyard as a source of food, and when young Mikel is forced to help slaughter them for their stew, it's just another in a long line of childhood traumas that inflict long-term psychologically damage. Meanwhile, Mikel's father is living in Los Angeles, and Mikel and Tony go visit him during the summers. There, they live it up — they idolize their father, a real man's man, who buys them dirt bikes, lets them eat whatever they want, and teaches them about life. Hollywood Park is not just the title of the memoir. For Mikel, it's also a symbol of his coming of age. It's where he learns his big life lessons from his dad, like the one in the scene above. And so that place becomes a symbol writ large of his father as well. As Mikel's eyes are more opened to the world, he begins to come to some realizations about his life with his mother and how she treats him and his brother. He doesn't, of course, understand subtle emotional abuse or mental illness as a child, but as he grows up, and later in life when he sees a therapist, his mother's constant guilt trips and neediness begin to make sense. As well, he's warned throughout his childhood that the disease of addiction runs in his family, and he should be vigilant. But he's not, and he's drinking and smoking and doing drugs as young as age 11, a path his older brother had blazed before him. But Mikel has a secret weapon. As he grows up, he becomes ever more introspective and self-aware -- and the book becomes more fascinating in how he addresses his past issues, his mother's emotional abuse, and his father's and brother's addictions. All these affect his adult life in numerous ways, from his relationships with women (which he knows are unhealthy) to his constant feelings of loneliness, self-loathing, and inadequacy — you know, the inspirations for a lot of really great songs. So then there is some stuff about rock and roll. I waited until now to mention this so as not to color your perception of this memoir if you didn't previously know who Mickel Jollett is. He's the frontman of the indie rock band the Airborne Toxic Event. In his pre-band 20s, he spent time as a rock journalist — even interviewing his idols David Bowie and Robert Smith. This helped set him on his own path to becoming a rock star (and yes, we finally learn about the real inspiration behind Sometime Around Midnight). But again, this book is not a "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" memoir. It's almost entirely about his childhood and teen years. This is going to sound strange, but the closest proxy I could think of to this book is Angela's Ashes — both are brilliantly sad memoirs with flashes of levity and an immense amount of underlying wisdom. I'd fully recommend this to anyone, even if you've never heard of, don't care about, or don't even like the Airborne Toxic Event. But keep the tissues nearby. (The Airborne Toxic Event released a companion album last week, also called Hollywood Park - their first in five years. It's also spectacular.)
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Memoirs are such a hard thing to review. Basically you’re judging someone’s life and experiences. So for me, memoirs really come down to writing and relatability and this book had both. Jollett’s writing was beautiful and raw and his brutal honesty about growing up in a cult without his parents and later with his parents who had a lot of issues had me very emotional.I loved how the writing really took you to Jollett’s mindset at each age. I loved that he shared his journey, his trauma, his heali Memoirs are such a hard thing to review. Basically you’re judging someone’s life and experiences. So for me, memoirs really come down to writing and relatability and this book had both. Jollett’s writing was beautiful and raw and his brutal honesty about growing up in a cult without his parents and later with his parents who had a lot of issues had me very emotional.I loved how the writing really took you to Jollett’s mindset at each age. I loved that he shared his journey, his trauma, his healing and growth. We hear a lot of stories of physical abuse but we don’t often see the ones of emotional abuse and neglect and those are every bit as important.Although I didn’t know Jollett as a writer or musician before this memoir, children of trauma often find a kinship with one another and his story affected me deeply. I have great respect for him and his choices and recommend this book to everyone, especially those who don’t have a lot of experience with negligent parents.I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Casey the Reader
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Celadon Books for the free advance copy of this book. Mikel Jollett was born into Synanon, a drug rehab program turned cult. When he was five, his grandparents rescued him, along with his mother and older brother. HOLLYWOOD PARK is an account of Jollett's post-Synanon life, told from his perspective as a child growing up in a troubled, fractured family. If you are drawn to memoirs like EDUCATED or THE GLASS CASTLE, get your hands on HOLLYWOOD PARK immediately. I could not put it down a Thanks to Celadon Books for the free advance copy of this book. Mikel Jollett was born into Synanon, a drug rehab program turned cult. When he was five, his grandparents rescued him, along with his mother and older brother. HOLLYWOOD PARK is an account of Jollett's post-Synanon life, told from his perspective as a child growing up in a troubled, fractured family. If you are drawn to memoirs like EDUCATED or THE GLASS CASTLE, get your hands on HOLLYWOOD PARK immediately. I could not put it down and tore through it in a weekend. You need not be familiar with Jollett or his current career as frontman of Airborne Toxic Event in order to appreciate his story. This is a story of a life lived under siege, of a child looking for love and answers and finding no support. The early chapters, with Jollett writing in the voice of a small child, are particularly heartbreaking given that we can see how his relatives are failing him and how the few adults who see his cries for help are pushed away, though the boy does not understand why he feels lost. As Jollett grows up and begins to understand his own trauma, discover community in music, and begin to figure out how to break the cycle for the next generation, I was moved to tears. Content warnings for drug and alcohol abuse, emotional and physical abuse, animal abuse, suicide, and probably other stuff, too.
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  • Jennifer Welsh
    January 1, 1970
    A brave coming-of-age story.What I loved most about the book was the fullness of this 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.
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  • Megan (readingretriever)
    January 1, 1970
    Hollywood Park Rating: 5/5I can already tell that Hollywood Park will be in my Top 10 books of the year. It's that good!Hollywood Park, the memoir of Mikel Jollett, is absolute perfection. As a writer, Jollett has a voice that is both poetic and striking. He paints vivid pictures of his life with his words so that the emotion of each moment shine through. I liked that Jollett's voice reflected the age he is in the story he is telling (i.e. when he is a child, his thoughts reflect how a child wou Hollywood Park Rating: 5/5I can already tell that Hollywood Park will be in my Top 10 books of the year. It's that good!Hollywood Park, the memoir of Mikel Jollett, is absolute perfection. As a writer, Jollett has a voice that is both poetic and striking. He paints vivid pictures of his life with his words so that the emotion of each moment shine through. I liked that Jollett's voice reflected the age he is in the story he is telling (i.e. when he is a child, his thoughts reflect how a child would perceive a particular moments). It allowed me as a reader to grow up with him throughout the book. It also emphasized how actions adult may think of as no big deal can have a completely different perception through the eyes of a child. Hollywood Park can be hard to read at times given the personal and heartbreaking nature of Jollett's life (I could only read a couple chapters at a time), but it is worth pushing through these moments to read the rewarding experience of his life. A couple of my favorite "themes" of the book were:- Emotional Abuse. Jollett's mother emotionally abuses him as a child and its fascinating to watch Jollett's thought process throughout the years as he comes to realize and accept that the way his mother treats him is not normal. It's also interesting how the lack of a proper love and attachment between him and his mother at an early age led to difficulties in his relationships later on in life. - The Power of Addiction. Both alcohol and drug addictions ran rampant in Jollett's family. Watching both Jollett, his brother Tony, and his step-dad Paul confront and try to manage these addictions was very insightful. Tony's addiction and ultimate recovery was particularly interesting.In addition to the topics above, Jollett dives deep on the impact cults have on children, growing up in poverty, and the power of love and family. While there are many difficult topics in this book, ultimately, this is a story of how much Jollett loves and appreciates his family. To wrap it all up, Jollett has lived a fascinating life and that is clearly reflected in Hollywood Park. This book is a fantastic read that I highly recommend. Thank you Celadon Books for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Sarah Prendergast (lifeandbookswithme)
    January 1, 1970
    If you are a fan of memoirs or biographies, this is a must-read. Mikel Jollett’s life started out in unusual circumstances, as his parents were members of Synanon (a cult that was known for being dangerous). Children were taken away from their parents and raised at “The School”. Mikel’s mother decides that they have to leave when the cult leader becomes increasingly unstable and everything Mikel has ever known is thrown upside down as his family must reintegrate into society. Mikel’s life transf If you are a fan of memoirs or biographies, this is a must-read. Mikel Jollett’s life started out in unusual circumstances, as his parents were members of Synanon (a cult that was known for being dangerous). Children were taken away from their parents and raised at “The School”. Mikel’s mother decides that they have to leave when the cult leader becomes increasingly unstable and everything Mikel has ever known is thrown upside down as his family must reintegrate into society. Mikel’s life transforms many times as he deals with his relationships with his older brother Tony, (who has a drug and alcohol abuse problem), his mother (who has a narcissistic personality disorder and a difficult time with reality) and his father (who lives on the other side of the country). He navigates the difficulties in his life and shares this in elegant prose with the reader.I have to highly recommend the audiobook for this book. @librofm gifted me a copy of the ALC (advanced listener’s copy) and it is easily the best audiobook I have ever listened to. It is read by Jollett himself in his melodic voice and you can feel his emotions as he reads his own memoir. The audio is layered with bits of his music from his band, The Airborne Toxic Event. His narratives are beautifully written with imagery and from the perspective of his current age in the memoir. The beginning of the story is told from a child’s perspective, making it more personal and full of memorable phrases as you feel with Mikel as he deals with poverty, trauma and neglect. An absolutely solid 5 star read for me!
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  • Sydney
    January 1, 1970
    If you are a fan of memoirs, you need to read this book. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Mike Jollett or his band The Airborne Toxic Event (although my fiancé had) before picking this up. Mike Jollett escaped a dangerous cult, the Church of Synanon, when he was very young and the memoir follows his tumultuous upbringing. I could not put this book down, as the perspective slowly starts to expand from his limited view of the world as a child to understanding how to find his voice in life. Jol If you are a fan of memoirs, you need to read this book. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Mike Jollett or his band The Airborne Toxic Event (although my fiancé had) before picking this up. Mike Jollett escaped a dangerous cult, the Church of Synanon, when he was very young and the memoir follows his tumultuous upbringing. I could not put this book down, as the perspective slowly starts to expand from his limited view of the world as a child to understanding how to find his voice in life. Jollett’s story is incredibly moving as you learn about his struggles growing up and how strongly these experiences affected his life and beliefs for decades after. Jollett is such a talented and poetic writer, with the ability to place the reader directly in his shoes for a raw and immersive read. I found Hollywood Park especially fascinating from a psychological point of view due to seeing how the trauma, neglect, and abuse experienced when Jollett was young affected his relationships later in life. This book is not about the cult itself, but rather the heavy impact of the cult on Jollett’s life and his struggle of perseverance. Thank you so much to Bookish First and Celadon Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. This one releases 5/26/2020 and you will not want to miss it!
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