Juliette's Reviews > The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes

The Road Through Wonderland by Dawn Schiller
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's review
Oct 29, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: memoirs
Read from September 05 to October 29, 2011

All I really knew about 1970s porn star John Holmes I learned from the film "Boogie Nights", which is based on his life story. I knew he died of AIDS in the 1980s, and that he was a drug addict. What I didn't know was that he and his wife took in an abandoned 15 year old girl, Dawn Schiller, and tried to ruin her life. Dawn Schiller grew up being abused and neglected. When she was 15, her dad drove her from Florida to California. After picking up a hitchhiker, they ended up at an apartment complex in Glendale, CA, managed by John and Sharon Holmes. John Holmes groomed Schiller, manipulated her, and began a sexual and emotionally abusive relationship with her. Holmes eventually got her addicted to drugs, beat her, prostituted her, and terrified her dog. It was horrible. And Sharon Holmes did nothing to step in or stop it. John Holmes ended up being involved in the famous Wonderland Avenue murders, and tried to implicate Schiller. What is odd about Schiller's memoir is she never even goes into historical detail of the murders, and never even names who the victims or the killers were, or who ended up being charged or convicted of the murders. She doesn't write about how she recovered from the years of abuse, neglect, manipulation, or sexual violence, but instead lists four pages of organizations and resources for help. She even acts as if Sharon Holmes was a victim, too, even though Sharon was an adult who stood by and did nothing while her husband began sexually abusing a teenage runaway. A shocking amount of adults failed Dawn Schiller, but she fails to really examine how she really survived all of this horror. She misses a strong opportunity to educate young readers about the impact of HIV/AIDS testing and prevention for people forced into prostitution, and never discusses her concerns or status after learning Holmes had HIV. Schiller co-produced a film based on this time period in her life called "Wonderland", and I may re-watch it to see if it does a better job of being thorough. Overall, this book was lacking in information, follow-through, and factual conclusions.

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