Hollywood Park is told by Mikel Jollett and details his own childhood. He and his older brother are born into a cult which removed children from their parents at six months of age and puts them in "the school" which is basically just an orphanage. They know who their mother is as she is allowed to visit on rare occasions. Their father left the cult.
I went into this thinking it would be a book about living in a cult, but actually most of it takes place after they left, as their mother ran away with the boys when Mikel was still quite young. Unfortunately what she took them to wasn't a better life. She struggled with mental illness and addiction. She bounced from one man to another. The boys were often without food. And when the man was absent the boys were expected to be the adult and care for their mother. Mikel spent his childhood dealing with neglect and abuse. He had no healthy relationships. And very early in his life he became an addict himself. He doesn't shy away from sharing his own mistakes.
Luckily their father changes and begins to be a stabilizing factor in their lives. They find a home with food, clothing and love, during their summer visits. When his brother stays with the dad one year Mikel must take on the responsibilities of life with his mom alone. As a mother my heart ached for Mikel and Tony. I wanted them to find the love they deserved. I wanted them to escape the life their mother had dragged them into. I couldn't stop reading because I needed to know the rest of the story.
Mr. Jollett's book is a brave exploration of pain, mental health, addiction, and childhood trauma. It is written beautifully, and I think that anyone who enjoyed the book Educated would find this one to be even better.