I just finished a new memoir that I want to tell you about. It’s called Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett, published by Celadon Books. From the description, I wondered if it would be such a troubled tale my HSP heart couldn’t take it, but, thankfully, I was wrong. Mikel writes with such beautiful sensitivity, making each part of his story alive and present to the reader, that even with the difficult subject matter, a courageous thread of hope runs through.
This is the story of a man who spent his first few years of childhood being raised in a group setting by people other than his parents in the cult Synonon. It’s how, after leaving the cult, he and his brother live with a mother who is mentally ill and abusive. It’s how Mikel interacts with and learns from his dad. How he makes it through his teen years with the pain he carries and ultimately, how he has to decide to keep hiding it or how to face it, work through it, and let it go.
And if you’re interested in musicians and bands, you’ll enjoy the last third of the book which weaves in and out of Mikel’s experience as a singer/songwriter and frontman for the band Airborne Toxic Event.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S., and Hollywood Park is a positive story about how mental illness (and addictions) can affect families as well as how healing can take place. I highly recommend this book!
(I received an ARC from Celadon Books for my honest review; all opinions are completely my own.)
As you head off to work or to your home office this Monday morning, you may feel the need of some motivation. The following is a short book review of a highly inspirational true story.
Krishan Bedi is someone I admire. He came, as a young man, to the Southern U.S. during the early 1960s with the purpose of obtaining a degree in engineering. He had little money, didn’t speak English very well, and had no experience with American culture or the American educational system.
In short, he took a huge risk to leave everything and everyone familiar behind and live an adventure. Because that’s what it was. He had a very courageous, impulsive and fun-loving spirit, which, I’m sure, helped him to face and overcome the numerous challenges that presented themselves. Sudden disaster, foolish decisions, and working menial jobs to earn enough to survive kept his life quite interesting in the early years.
But even finding a measure of success doesn’t mean that circumstances stay at an even keel the rest of one’s life. He faced hardship and unanticipated difficulties, but he kept going, kept trying, kept looking for the next step, for a better path. You will laugh at some of the hilarious situations he finds himself in, you will gasp at some of the unwise decisions he makes, you will share in his grief as he goes through loss and disaster, and you will cheer when he comes through it.
The book is called Engineering a Life: A Memoirby Krishan K. Bedi. I highly recommend this one. First, as a book to motivate and inspire you. Second, to see life through the eyes of another.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
I just finished reading Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, a memoir of her life before and with incurable Stage IV colon cancer. If you’re like me and tend to shy away from books about terminal illness, you might think it will be a dark, depressing, hopeless tale that will leave you in tears and in a blue mood for a week.
This book isn’t like that. Kate is smart, funny, and endearingly honest with how she faces this illness day by day. She has a young son and a husband whom she loves and doesn’t want to leave. There is no way to ignore her sense of grief as she lives with the fact she is dying, but she is no Debbie Downer. Her narrative goes along with her emotions and thoughts in a way that is tender and raw and completely relatable. She feels sadness, anger, and despair, but also joy, gratitude and hope.
Throughout, she expresses her thoughts on Christianity, particularly the prosperity message and how it does not serve people who face terminal illness or catastrophic events of any kind. By relating not only her experience, but those of many others who have gone through the loss of loved ones or who are ill themselves, she shows how this message does a lot more harm than good. Although she remains a believer, how she thinks about God and Divine interaction does go through an evolution as she attempts to make sense of her circumstances.
What stands out to me, aside from the fact that the book is interlaced with references to the Christian prosperity gospel, which I am very familiar with, is how well she brings the reader so close to herself and her story. You will feel like a trusted friend who is allowed to hear her unedited version of what it’s really like to be her as she makes this journey. Kate Bowler has given the world a gift with this book. I walked away thankful for even the tough things in my life and with a determination to not waste a moment of it. I highly recommend that you read this book for yourself.
* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.