Before she inadvertently launched her son’s career on YouTube in 2008, Pattie Mallette survived suicide attempts, drug addiction, and giving birth to megastar Justin Bieber when she was just 18. The 37-year-old single mother’s Twitter bio reminds her 1 million followers (her son has 29 million) that she has other great qualities besides being Bieber’s mother. Her new memoir, Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom (Revell, Sept. 18) co-authored with A.J. Gregory, tells that story.
The bestseller is the first of its kind for mothers of superstars from the millennial generation; no celebrity parent of a child as famous as Bieber have penned a memoir quite like this. Mallette tells of surviving the trauma of sexual abuse at the hands of family friends that began when she was just three years old. She also endured fall-out from the absence of her birth father and the family’s loss of her 5-year-old sister before Mallette’s birth.
You’ve said in interviews that Justin found your book painful to read. How much did you discuss what was in the book with him before it was published?
He read the book before it went to print, and parts of it were hard for him read, like the parts where I talk about being abused and about suicide. But he’s really supportive. He just doesn’t want to see his mom in pain.
What do you hope girls and young women will get from reading your book?
I really hope that they’re inspired and that they can find hope for some of their own dark situations. About 10 percent of proceeds from the book will go to the Nowhere But Up Foundation. The money will go to homes for unwed mothers [like the one Justin was born in] and drug and alcohol addiction centers for young people. We’re just getting [the foundation] registered and we have the 501 C3 process mostly finished.
Was it important for you to write the book with another mother (A.J. Gregory)? Was that intentional?
It actually wasn’t a factor, but it helps knowing that she is. I wanted someone to capture my voice, and, in the end, she did so beautifully.
If you could, what would you tell your younger self to get her through?
I would say don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t give up. It will get better.
What did you learn from writing Nowhere But Up?
Writing it was very cathartic for me. I’m working on Nowhere But Up: The Teen Version right now, and it’s supposed to happen around spring in 2013. The whole reason I wrote this book was to help others. I have a real heart for the teenagers.