A few years ago, a YouTube sensation was born, and now he’s gone on to become one of the most famous singers in the world. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Justin Bieber. Of course you’ve heard of him. Who hasn’t, right? Well, maybe you also know a little something about his mother, Pattie Mallette, who you may have seen in interviews or in Justin’s hit documentary movie, Never Say Never. But what you may not know is the extent --- or the powerful impact --- of Pattie’s testimony.
NOWHERE BUT UP is the perfect title for this book, because Pattie pretty much started at the bottom. Beginning with her father walking out on her when she was little, followed by sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, toxic relationships, depression, attempted suicide, and an unplanned pregnancy, there was nowhere to go but up. But even from a young age, Pattie developed a hunger for God and knew He had a better plan for her life. It just took a while to figure out what that plan was.
"Some have questioned Pattie’s motivation behind writing this book. I personally found it to be one of the most refreshingly honest and real memoirs I’ve ever read."
The first half of the book takes us through Pattie’s “Before Justin” days: her childhood, her rebellious teen years, and her volatile relationships with her mother and with her boyfriend, Jeremy, who ended up fathering her baby. It was during her psychiatric hospital stay following her attempted suicide that she fully turned her heart over to God, thanks to the influence of a loving youth pastor and his wife. For a while, she was on fire for God --- until the novelty wore off, as it does for many new Christians. And even after she recommitted her life again, Pattie says, “Though I had recommitted my life to God, I had still not committed my sexuality to Him just yet.” So it’s not surprising that Pattie eventually found out she was pregnant.
The second half of the book deals with life as “Justin Bieber’s Mom,” which not only contains interesting and entertaining details about the superstar’s childhood, but also shows how Justin helped Pattie grow up. She still battled with insecurities and had to deal with the “stuff” she’d suffered in her life, but there’s no question she was (and is) an incredible mother. And, in many ways, Justin saved her from herself and her destructive behaviors. Of course, Pattie gives credit where credit is really due: God. She recounts many incidents of God’s divine intervention --- intervention that could not have been anything except the hand of God. For example, when she didn’t know how she was going to pay her rent, God “told” someone to give her the exact amount she needed. He also brought certain people into her life at just the right moment.
Some have questioned Pattie’s motivation behind writing this book. I personally found it to be one of the most refreshingly honest and real memoirs I’ve ever read. Not once does she come across as a woman looking to accomplish anything other than what she claims early on in the book: "I decided to tell my story not only for my own healing from a difficult past but also to help bring healing and liberation to those of you who may have suffered in similar ways."
Pattie Mallette is an example of someone who hasn’t stayed stuck in the past, or made excuses for her insecurities and poor choices (even though she arguably has plenty!). Yes, there are factors that played a part in the struggles she faces today, but she takes responsibility for her actions, continues to work through her issues, and looks to God, the One who was not only holding her hand during every traumatic and difficult time in her life, but who also has healed her, both emotionally and spiritually. And now she hopes to encourage others who may be going through similar circumstances.
If you’re a Bieber fan, you’ll especially enjoy the several pages of photos included in this book. But that’s just the icing on the cake. The main reason you’ll want to pick up a copy is because of the inspiring and heartfelt story of a girl who proved that in spite of where you start or what you endure, God is there to take your hand and lift you up, sometimes even high enough to reach the stars.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on December 12, 2012