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Synanon Kid Grows Up

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After spending almost five years of her childhood in the Synanon cult, Celena's longtime wish to leave the commune is finally realized.

Yet, Ideals of how and where to live clash within her small family. While Celena has developed a deep longing and desire for normalcy, to attend public school, and meld into the plainness of mainstream American life, her parents are on the hunt for the next utopia.

Money is tight and tempers are hot as she and her family try to navigate the challenge of surviving on their own. For the first time, Celena is made aware of what it means to be black in a white world, sometimes struggling with a level of invisibility that she was not prepared for. Longing to belong somewhere, she develops the fierce desire to return to Los Angeles and the African American community she came from.

As Celena grows into a young woman, her existential angst has her questioning God’s existence and taking a hard look at materialism and the values of the American mainstream culture that she once idealized. Over time, she learns to embrace the counterculture lifestyle of the Santa Cruz community that she and her family have settled in. Through her stepfather’s role as a drug counselor at the Sunflower House rehab, she comes to have a deeper understanding of what the Synanon cult was all about and why people initially became attracted to the commune.
This is the story of a young woman’s search for identity while coming to terms with her past as a Synanon kid.