The Mother Brain Files: You Are Not Alone – Michael, Through a Brotherâ€™s Eyes Review
By Mother Brain
I was a Michael Jackson fan going as far back as 1987 when the Bad album was released. I remember my cousin and I imitating his dance moves at our grandmotherâ€™s house as well as wearing out our VHS copy of the Moonwalker movie. He was a major staple of my childhood and into my teen years when the controversy surrounding his private life tarnished his image.
As this month marks the three year anniversary of his untimely passing, I picked up a copy of the book You Are Not Alone – Michael, Through a Brotherâ€™s Eyes written by his artist brother Jermaine Jackson. Jermaine has been the most outspoken member of the Jackson family for years and has constantly been positioned to defend his brotherâ€™s reputation. Now this book puts a human face on the King of Pop without the media scrutiny to reveal a musical genius brother who was never satisfied with his image.
The chapters in Jermaineâ€™s book range from the early history of the Jacksonsâ€™ humble beginning in downtrodden Gary, Indiana to their rise to fame and success in Hollywood. While the media likes to depict their father Joseph as an abusive man, Jermaine depicts a tough loving father who wanted a better life for his children and wanted them to avoid deceptive people in their rough community. Each member of the family gets highlighted in some fashion from mother Katherineâ€™s Jehovahâ€™s Witness beliefs to the brothers own individual personalities and stories.
Every story depicted in the book is either directly or indirectly related to Michael. Thereâ€™s the well-known stories about Michaelâ€™s lost childhood, his inner struggle to breakout as a solo superstar, the explosion known as 1982â€™s Thriller, the inspirations for songs like â€œWanna Be Starting Somethinâ€™â€ and â€œBillie Jeanâ€, his relationships with famous women, etc. But thereâ€™s also the aspects of Michael we didnâ€™t know which were truly inspiring to read. He would record his voice saying positive words which he would play back every morning to motivate his mood. He involved himself in multiple charities and gave back to schools which went unreported in the news. Even most inspiring was how he personally designed a large memory room in the family home at Havenhurst which is filled with vintage photos and belongings of every member of the Jackson family.
Jermaine does not overlook the controversy surrounding Michaelâ€™s life. He goes into great detail about his brotherâ€™s use of painkillers for years after the Pepsi commercial accident in 1984. Thereâ€™s also the full story behind the skin changing disease vitiligo that turned Michael white. Of course the child molestation allegations are discussed in great length but from a first person perspective by Jermaine which feels more authentic than anything the media has ever put out. Thereâ€™s also the full story behind the brief fallout between the two brothers due to the anti-Michael song â€œWord to the Baddâ€ that Jermaine recorded in the early 90s.
As much as the book is centered around Michaelâ€™s life, a big part of it is designed as Jermaineâ€™s autobiography. He reveals to the reader his own struggles with staying with Motown after his brothers left the label to control their own music and how that affected him spiritually. He even sets the record straight on his rumored romance with Whitney Houston during the beginning of her career which some have said led to the end of his marriage to Hazel Gordy, daughter of Motown founder Berry Gordy. He also talks about the anger he felt when he called into CNN the day Michael was arrested, calling the event a â€œmodern day lynching.â€ His story is every bit of a serious page-turner as Michaelâ€™s.
If there are flaws with the book, thereâ€™s only so few. Jermaine does jump the time of events in some chapters which can often be confusing. I would have liked to hear more details about not only Michaelâ€™s celebrity friendships as well as his quiet attempts at breaking into the movie business. But this book was all about a brotherâ€™s closeness with a younger brother who rose high only to have a spectacular fall.