It seems pretty clear that 18-year-old pop prodigy Justin Bieber is living a charmed life. His mom, however, had a far tougher start. Pattie Mallette, 37, has written a new memoir, Nowhere but Up, in which she recounts wrenching girlhood experiences, from sexual abuse to deep, suicidal depression to the teenage pregnancy that led to Justin's birth. Mallette says writing the memoir was part of her "healing process," but her account of her painful youth in Stratford, Ontario, also yields some little known details about her superstar son. Here, six details about Justin Bieber's life revealed in his mother's gut-wrenching book:
1. Bieber's mom resisted pressure to have an abortion
Mallette, who writes that she was sexually molested by several abusers from age 3, ran away from home at age 16. She supported herself, and her drinking and drug habits, with petty crimes and pot dealing. Her destructive, on-and-off four-year relationship with Justin's father, Jeremy Bieber, left her pregnant at age 18. Everyone around her pressured her to have an abortion, arguing that she was in no financial position to raise a baby. Mallette says she never considered it, even after her parents refused to help and Jeremy, Justin's father, walked out on her during a Lamaze class. "It was really a personal choice for me,” says Mallette, who says she supports abortion rights. "I just knew it wasn’t an option for me."
2. She was going to name her son Jesse
When Pattie Mallette was living in a home for unwed pregnant teens and waiting for her baby's arrival, she had decided to name him Jesse. But when the baby was born — his first cry sounding like a song, she says — she changed her mind. After she was able to see and hold her newborn, she figured he looked more like a Justin.
3. Bieber's dad was in jail the day he was born
The fact that both Mallette and Jeremy Bieber were substance abusers and all around troubled kids didn't help their rocky relationship, she says. In fact, the day Justin was born his dad was locked up in a county jail, after getting in a fight. Since then, the father-son relationship has turned positive. "We've both grown. We've both changed," Mallette says. "He's been there since Justin was a baby. Some people think he just showed up when Justin became famous, but he's been a good dad."
4. Justin drove his teachers crazy
"Bieber was a handful as a child," says Nick Patch of the Canadian Press. He had a "boundless energy that irked teachers and kept his single mother perpetually occupied." In the book, Mallette says that, although Bieber was never medically diagnosed, the "signs were obvious" that he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. "I had a teacher say that… he was like having 10 kids," she says. "When he was good, the whole class was good. When he was bad, the whole class was bad. So he kept me on my toes."
5. The future star listened to R&B in utero
Ever wonder where Bieber came by his love of R&B? Mallette doesn't. She says her influence on her son's future began during her pregnancy, when she played Boyz II Men albums. The musical bombardment continued through his infancy.
6. As a tot, he sang for money on the streets
After Justin was born, his teen mom says she couldn't go home, so she relied on government assistance and part-time jobs to scrape by. But, while she worked on earning her high-school diploma and then completing college training in website design, her son's singing talent and drum and guitar playing skills surfaced early. Starting at age 6, he started bringing in thousands of dollars in extra cash by singing in the streets. Years later, Mallette posted YouTube videos to share Justin's talents with relatives, the clips went viral, and the rest is Bieber Fever history.
Editor's note: This article originally incorrectly stated the age at which Bieber's mother became pregnant. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.