Hollywood Park

Celadon: Macmillan. May 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781250621566. $27.99. MEMOIR
In this first book by writer/musician Jollett, front man of indie band Airborne Toxic Event and on-air columnist for NPR’s All Things Considered, readers are brought into his childhood in Synanon, a cult that initially attracted his parents before they found themselves disillusioned. Jollett eloquently writes about years of being constantly left alone with his thoughts while his dad tried to turn his life around after spending time in prison and his mom, who lived with severe depression and alcoholism, sought to find a father figure for her two sons. Moving chapters describe the emotional toll of Jollett being forced to become a caretaker for his mom as her mental illness intensifies, and accompanying his dad to the Hollywood Park race track. Jollett is at his best when exploring his complicated relationship with his brother; drifting apart as children and forming a stronger bond as adults, especially after the author becomes the first person in his family to attend college. He concludes with how music, and writing, became outlets for masking feelings of shame and coming to terms with the past.
VERDICT Jollett’s absorbing memoir of self, discovery, and rediscovery will have a wide audience.

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