Thank you Celadon for the gifted copy of Hollywood Park, in exchange for an honest review. #partner
It is no secret that I love a good memoir. If you have read my past reviews, you have seen me gush over memoirs like In the Dream House, Educated, Little Sister, Heavy, and many more. I recently listened to the audio of Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett. Narrated by Jollett, he bares his soul and discusses the childhood he hid behind masks to get himself to where he is today. This memoir brings up addiction, poverty, trauma, emotional abuse and neglect, and mental health disorders.
Jollett is the lead singer for the band, The Airborne Toxic Effect. You may have heard their song "Changing" when it graced the radio waves in 2011. I know I did and every time it came on, I cranked the volume. Jollett has a deep baritone voice that seeps out of the speakers like honey. Though I loved the song, I never thought about the person who was singing the lyrics. Hollywood Park gives depth to who Jollett really is, which is much more than a singer in an indie rock band.
Jollett's parents were members of an infamous cult that eventually became the Church of Synanon. Separated from his parents when he was six months old, he lived with other "children of the universe" and saw his parents once or twice a year. It was all he knew and that was home, until his mother broke them out of the cult when he was a young boy. He then learned that life outside the church walls was more complicated than he could have imagined. Living with a mother who was neglectful, crossed physical and emotional boundaries, and treated her son as though he should take care of her propelled him into a world of drugs and alcohol at a young age.
As a child, Jollett lived his life in crisis mode and dealt with the anger, frustration, and hurt in the only way he knew how-acting out, drugs, and alcohol. He was used to living in poverty with a narcissistic mother with boyfriends who came and went. Jollett never knew the stability of a family until he created one of his own. I related intensely to Jollett's therapy breakthroughs as an adult when he discussed his upbringing and began making connections between childhood events and why he is who he is. As an adult, he attends therapy and sets boundaries with his mother, so that he can heal from the pain of his upbringing. So many parts of his story rang true for me. His voice is raw, visceral, and as lyrical as his music.
I highly recommend the audio, as The Airborne Toxic Event released an album simultaneously with Jollett's memoir, titled Hollywood Park. The audiobook plays snippets of the album, which bring the book to life. Add Hollywood Park to your list if you liked memoirs such as The Glass Castle, Educated, Little Sister, and The Sound of Gravel. I went into this one thinking it was a "cult" book (because, cults intrigue me!) but it is so much more than that. The underlying message of how emotional traumas can dig away at a child's soul and follow them into adulthood was resounding and connected with me.