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Date published: 10/1/2012
NEW YORK--Pattie Mallette was 18, living in a home for pregnant girls after years of unrelenting sex abuse and depression when she gave birth to a boy she thought she'd name Jesse, a boy whose first cry sounded like a song.
He seemed more like a Justin after she saw him. And his last name isn't Mallette.
You'd have to be firmly under a rock not to know at least a little bit about Justin Bieber's YouTube-to-riches story, his loyal fan base of "Beliebers," 28 million Twitter followers or hordes of screaming girls who pack his tours.
What you probably don't know are his mother's struggles, starting with the painful divorce of her parents, through years of emotional turmoil and hard partying that made school a blur, and her eventual turn to God after a suicide attempt about six months before Justin was conceived.
Mallette, 37, has laid bare her past in a new book, "Nowhere but Up: The story of Justin Bieber's Mom," out recently from the inspirational publisher Revell.
It's a powerful, plainspoken story, written in collaboration with A.J. Gregory, a mother herself. A portion of proceeds has been promised to shelters like the one that harbored Mallette in Canada when her mother kicked her out of the house after she got pregnant.
Her troubles began well before that, however, and Mallette has forgotten little.
"Writing the book was part of my healing process," she said in an interview.
She was 2 when she watched her alcoholic, abusive father walk out and about 3 when she was first sexually abused. Mallette doesn't identify her numerous molesters, including a male baby sitter and the grandfather of a friend, but the last words of her book's acknowledgments speak volumes. "To my abusers: I forgive you."
Fear, shame and the notion that she was an unlovable, "dirty girl" stretched through her life. She said the "void of having a father in my heart" led her down rough paths, including drinking and drugging to oblivion, beginning at age 14.