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La Toya: Growing Up In The Jackson Family (1991)

“Here is my book, the one my family doesn’t want you to read.” — La Toya Jackson

La Toya Jackson had one overriding purpose in writing this extraordinary book: To tell the truth – no matter how painful. And to reveal the disastrous cost of the most dazzling success in American show business. It is the story that Michael Jackson didn’t tell in his own utterly upbeat autobiography. This startlingly candid book is the dark side of Moonwalk.

On these pages the shocking Jackson family secret is revealed for the first time. The secret never hinted at in all the glowing press releases and fun-filled feature stories. The secret of brutal child abuse that began when the children were little more than infants and lasted until one by one they fought themselves free and had to deal with the scars.

But that is only part of La Toya’s story. She tells what turned Michael from an irrepressible, outgoing youngster into a shy, almost fearful human being. She lets you into his first relationships with woman, among them Tatum O’Neal and Brooke Shields. She talks frankly about the rivalries and jealousies in the family, as well as the warm bonds that made them so great a group. She remembers the early days and the skyrocket rise to the top in the Motown era and afterward. And she provides brutally frank insight into what really goes on in the record industry. Above all, she lays her own life bare: her hair-raising near-abduction by her parents; her famous appearance in Playboy that marked the end of girlhood; her whispered-about marriage-in-name-only; and so much more about herself and her family.

Today La Toya is her own woman and a superstar in her own right. To be both she had to pay her dues. This book is her final installment. Illustrated with 32 pages of photographs, this fascinating account tells her whole shocking, but ultimately triumphant, story.

Hardcover edition released September 10, 1991. Paperback edition released September 24, 1992.

In 1991 La Toya shocked the world and got pushed in to the mainstream, when she released her tell-all biography “Growing Up In The Jackson Family.” It was released shortly after Michael’s own book, Moonwalk and according to La Toya her family did everything they could to try stop it coming out. The reason? Unlike Michael’s own sugar-coated biography, she finally revealed the truth about her and her siblings harsh upbringing.

But the physical abuse was only the start of it. She also revealed intimate details of Michael’s first relationship with a woman, her mothers prejudiced views on Jewish people, Jermaine’s jealousy of his more famous brother and all the gory details of her own life, including the infamous Playboy shoot.

The book, in its released version, was co-authored with Patricia Romanowski Bashe; however, it began in 1989 as a collaboration between La Toya and celebrity autobiographer Mickey Herskowitz. Herskowitz told Church of La Toya in 2008 that the duo had put together a 400-page manuscript that was rejected by their publisher for being “too tame.” It was then re-tooled with Romanowski and saw a release over two years after the project began.

“Growing Up In The Jackson Family” sold well — over 2 million copies worldwide — and spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and is collectible in various formats and languages.

With all their dirty laundry revealed to the world, La Toya’s family weren’t happy after the book had been released.

Sister Janet certainly wasn’t a fan. “It’s a load of crap!” she spat in one interview, “our father spanked us occasionally, but it was nothing we didn’t deserve.” Little known sister Rebbie also passed comment, saying La Toya made her “ashamed to be a Jackson.” However, the girls were left with egg on their faces when, despite brushing over it in his own book, brother Michael confirmed on The Oprah Winfrey Show that Joseph’s beatings were every bit as extreme as La Toya had claimed.

That’s not to say Michael approved of the book itself. According to La Toya’s ex sister-in-law Margaret Maldonado in her own book ‘Jackson Family Values’, Michael ranted, “Look I’ve been doing this since I was five years old. And here you come out of nowhere. What justifies your fame? You’re not entitled to it yet, La Toya. You haven’t done anything yet,” obviously missing the six breathtaking albums she poured her heart and soul in to prior to the book’s launch!

In the weeks leading up to the release of the book, Gordon ordered that the transcript be kept in a high-security vault out of fear that the Jackson family would attempt to sabotage the project.

Nevertheless, the fighting is all in the past now and La Toya is back together with the family, having made up after divorcing Jack Gordon. She said in her 2003 Larry King interview that Joseph has apologized for their cruel upbringing and she’s respectfully forgiven him. With everything out in the open and La Toya free from her abusive husband, they’re now a much happier and closer family than they were back then.