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

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

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.

Mikel Jollett was born 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, forming the band The Airborne Toxic Event.


<i>Huffington Post</i>, 10 of the Most Anticipated Book Releases of May
Deals with addiction, religious fanaticism, and abuse. But there's also loyalty, raw love, and a poetic voice that prevails throughout the horror.
<i>Good Housekeeping</i>
Far from your standard rock autobiography, and no wonder: Jollett was born into a violent cult and overcame a chaotic youth.
<i>New York Times</i>, New & Noteworthy
An absorbing, emotional read
<i>New York Post</i>
...an exquisitely deep and moving tale of transformation and the search for love.
<i>People</i> Magazine, Book of the Week
Jollett was raised from childhood in a cult, brought up under the leaders of Synanon. With stunning clarity, he tells of his mother's escapes and the subsequent trials his family endured.
<i>Newsweek</i> 40 Must-Read Fiction And Nonfiction Books To Savor This Spring
Dangerous, immediate and lyrical from the jump.
<i>Wall Street Journal</i>
Hollywood Park is amazing. Mikel Jollett takes the shards of a broken childhood - imagine a life where escaping from a violent cult is somehow not a path to safety - and makes it a universal story of the struggle to find connection in a brutally beautiful world. His story zigs where you think it's going to zag, and even the most irredeemable characters somehow surprise us with their tenacity. It's a complicated story with a simple payoff: this is how the light gets in, this is how an artist gets made.
Glen David Gold, author of <i>Carter Beats the Devil</i>
Engaging and heartbreaking. A good choice for fans of memoirs about overcoming dysfunctional childhoods like Educated and The Glass Castle.
A story of fierce love and family loyalty.
<i>Good Morning America</i>, 20 Books We're Excited for in 2020
The frontman of rock band Airborne Toxic Event chronicles, in gorgeous and exacting lyricism, his harrowing coming-of-age within (and eventual escape from) the Church of Synanon, a violent religious cult.
<i>O, The Oprah Magazine</i>, The 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 (so Far)
Jollett's story serves as a potent reminder that while we cannot change the hand we're dealt, our freedom lies in what we choose to do with those cards.
Adrienne Brodeur, author of <i>Wild Game</i>, <i>The Millions</i>
A painstaking emotional accounting of a tortured youth ultimately redeemed through music, therapy, and love.
<i>Kirkus</i>, Starred Review
Jollett engagingly narrates his story . . . result[ing] in a shocking but contemplative memoir about the aftermath of an unhealthy upbringing.
<i>Publishers Weekly</i>, Starred Review
A Gen-X This Boy's Life . . . Music and his fierce brilliance boost Jollett; a visceral urge to leave his background behind propels him to excel . . . In the end, Jollett shakes off the past to become the captain of his own soul. Hollywood Park is a triumph.
O, The Oprah Magazine
Jollett has an innate sensitivity and eye for detail. You sense that any novel he'd write would be a good one, a Denis Johnson-esque tale rife with drifters and drugs . . . He recognizes literature as what the critic Kenneth Burke called equipment for living.
<i>Washington Post</i>
A moving and often lyrical account of a fraught, precarious life.
<i>The Sunday Times</i>
Astonishing detail . . . precisely crafted, emotionally-sucker-punching prose.
<i>Daily Telegraph</i>
Steeped in tenderness and cruelty, Hollywood Park is a testament to the power of imagination and storytelling in deconstructing trauma. Jollett paints an achingly honest portrait of his family in glittering, urgent prose. I felt their darkness and their poetry in my bones.
Jessica Andrews, author of <i>Saltwater</i>