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Interview: Discussing “Nowhere but Up,” with Justin Bieber’s mom Pattie Mallette

pattiemallettenowherebutupAt 18, Justin Bieber is the age that his mother was when he was born.

“I didn’t expect this life for him,” the pop star’s mom, Pattie Mallette, told us during an interview at the downtown Atlanta Ritz-Carlton last week. “I think he’s made a lot of great decisions.”

Mallette signed copies of her powerful new memoir, “Nowhere but Up,” on Saturday at the Alpharetta Barnes and Noble. We have done a random drawing to select the winner of a signed copy of the book. Thanks to all who entered!

In the book Mallette shares painful secrets from her past. Her father abandoned the family. She was sexually abused by a number of perpetrators she identifies as people close to her circle of family and friends. Her sister died in a tragic accident before Mallette was born, casting a pall over her home.

“It took a lot for me to get to the place I’m at now,” Mallette said. “It’s been a long road.”

The longing she felt for her absent father and the psychological damage wrought by her abusers left Mallette with shattered self-esteem as an adolescent. She experimented with drugs, skipped school and shoplifted for fun with her friends. And although she was taking birth control pills, she became pregnant.

“We lived below the poverty level,” Mallette said of the early days of young single motherhood. “We were on public assistance. Justin and I would go out for dinner. We would share a meal and I would have water. Justin always said he didn’t know we were poor, but he’s always going to appreciate what he has. When we first moved to Atlanta to get his career started, he had me among other people telling him, ‘Don’t forget where you came from.’”

“Nowhere but Up,” written with A.J. Gregory, touches on the now-familiar story of Bieber’s path to fame. His mom posted YouTube videos of him performing at a talent contest so his grandmother could see them. The videos quickly went viral, and before long Scooter Braun had flown Bieber and his mom to Atlanta to sign the young star. But most of Mallette’s book deals with her own journey, from a child too afraid to stand up to her abusers to a young woman confident enough to share her past with the world.

“When you’re a child and you’re going through something as horrific as sexual abuse, you’re going through fear and confusion,” she said. “Once I found my voice, I wanted to prevent others from going through that sort of thing. My faith has been a huge part of my confidence and my growth. I feel like I can’t survive without my faith. God has just given me so much favor. I see him working through my life in so many ways.”

Mallette and her famous son get back to Atlanta occasionally, although his travel schedule keeps them away from their adopted Southern hometown much of the time.

Pattie Mallette poses on the balcony of The Atlanta Grill at the downtown Atlanta Ritz-Carlton, enjoying its view of Peachtree Street. She said she misses Atlanta, where her son's recording career began, and gets back here a few times a year.

Pattie Mallette poses on the balcony of The Atlanta Grill at the downtown Atlanta Ritz-Carlton, enjoying its view of Peachtree Street. She said she misses Atlanta, where her son's recording career began, and gets back here a few times a year.

“I miss it,” said Mallette, looking wistfully out onto Peachtree Street from the balcony of The Atlanta Grill, the restaurant at the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton. “I love the people. I love the Southern hospitality.”

Although her teenager is arguably the world’s most famous, he’s still her baby.

“He steps on stage as Justin Bieber the performer. He steps off stage as Justin Bieber the kid,” said Mallette, who once dreamed her son would become a youth minister. “Justin will always be Justin to me. I’m always Mama.”

17 comments Add your comment

Hands down

October 6th, 2012
12:20 pm

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Bieber Fever « I've Got Bieber Fever!

October 6th, 2012
12:23 pm

[...] Mom Pattie Mallette Hangs Out With Bachelor Host Chris …Us MagazineHuffington Post -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 48 news [...]


October 6th, 2012
3:32 pm

what a great story, she will always just be his mom, and for that he is the luckiest kid on earth, she should be really proud of him, and she makes us all proud to be parents.

Janet Cole

October 8th, 2012
8:50 am

Ms Mallette…I am sooo proud of you because you did a great job raising Justin he is sooo nice and kind just like his mother…do give up on Justin being a youth minister…he do that everyday when he talk and sing GOD will always use him for his glory…GOD has a special man for you just wait on GOD!!!!

Deborah Smith

October 8th, 2012
8:57 am

Ms. Mallette stayed STRONG and FOCUSED on her son’s vision. Justin’s success is due to MOM’s groundwork; may you and your family be BLESSED!


October 8th, 2012
9:59 am

Single moms rule! She did a great job with Justin and is doing the right thing by staying close to him on the road! Way to go Pattie!


October 8th, 2012
10:23 am

such a beautiful story, what a powerful woman! raised a wonderful child.


October 8th, 2012
10:44 am

INCREDIBLY inspiring! My mother would LOVE this book!


October 8th, 2012
11:06 am

Amazing story, lucky kid!!!


October 8th, 2012
11:25 am

Living proof that a very young single mom can succeed in life and also raise a great kid all the while keeping the faith. You go girl!


October 8th, 2012
11:29 am

A true inspiration on turning life around for the better.


October 8th, 2012
1:22 pm

She stayed strong and supported Justin… !! i really want to win that book :)


October 8th, 2012
4:18 pm

sounds like a very interesting book to read

jamileth sanchez

October 8th, 2012
7:32 pm

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jamileth Sanchez

October 8th, 2012
7:40 pm

Pattie Malette is such a strong woman. She deserves everything thats happening to her right now. Justin Bieber is the luckiest kid on earth because his mom helped him get to where he is now. Noboby would know about Justin Bieber if she hadn’t,t posted those videos on Youtube. Thank you so much for having that amazing son. He has changed music history forever. I dont know where i would be right now if it wasn’t for both of them. They inspire me to follow my dreams. Love you.

James Thornton

October 8th, 2012
8:21 pm

Thanks for the giveaway!


October 9th, 2012
1:33 pm

She’s such an inspiration. I’d love to read this book!