Hollywood Park: A Memoir
Author: Mikel Jollett
Release Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Memoir, Survival
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 is the memoir of Mikel Jollett.
This book had me feeling a lot of different emotions. From sadness to anger to happiness. Most of all, it was inspiring. What Mikel went through was heart wrenching. From escaping a cult to living with unresolved trauma, it brought tears to my eyes. As I was reading, I realized I liked his dad way more than his mom. I couldn’t put my finger on why. I mean yes I wasn’t a fan of how she treated him and his brother. Towards the end of the book, I had my answer. Mikel grew up in a different time. Different views and political opinions. All were influences forced upon him. You follow Mikel on his journey through life. The ups and downs and the hard lessons he had to learn along the way. This memoir is very well written. I honestly hadn’t heard of Mikel’s band but I plan on checking out their music. I applaud Mikel for writing this book. It took courage and I know it wasn’t easy but he did it and it could help someone else dealing with some of the things he went through. I give this 4 stars.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*