This may be the first memoir I've read about someone I knew absolutely nothing about prior to picking up the book. I'm so glad I did, because this book was riveting from the beginning. Initially told from the perspective and in the voice of his 5-year-old self, Mikel weaves the tale of his unique life story. As he and his mother and brother leave a cult and struggle to adjust to life on the outside, Mikel also struggles with relationships, emotions, and the effects that isolation and separation inevitably leave on him and his family. I was in tears at several points while reading about his difficult young life. However, I was inspired by his determination to overcome the multitude of challenges life presented him and his drive to follow his dreams, repair the hurt in his heart, and build healthy relationships as an adult. It hurt my heart to read this book at times, but it is ultimately a tale of redemption that will inspire many.
Also, as a music nerd, I appreciated the insight into his music journalism career (including the memories of encounters with some of my musical heroes!) and the intimate look at his songwriting process. I admit that I had never heard his band, The Airborne Toxic Event, before reading this book but I took a listen to their music and the album that accompanies this book, and I found it a compelling listen, knowing the stories behind the songs. I recommend listening to the music after reading the book to round out the story and understand more fully the journey that this book represents.
This is one of the best books I have read this year, and I recommend it to anyone looking to be moved and uplifted.