Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Through a Brother's Eyes

by Jermaine Jackson

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5156-0
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Jermaine Jackson sets out to resurrect the tarnished legacy of late superstar brother Michael in an emotionally charged memoir.

“Erms” (Michael’s nickname for Jermaine) had a complex relationship with his brother. There was jealousy, sibling rivalry and professional brinksmanship. A lot went down between the two since first huddling together as starry-eyed innocents at their window overlooking Jackson Street in the 1960s. Ultimately, the gradual degradation of their close relationship led to long periods of estrangement where Michael was alone. Jermaine attempts to present all this in the most positive light, and his enduring love for his doomed brother is evident. But his reliability as an advocate for The King of Pop's more inscrutable behavior remains questionable. According to Jermaine, Michael kept his brothers at arm’s length during much of the baffling metamorphosis he underwent later in life. The author clouds the picture even further at times when it appears he is simply singing his own praises. Jermaine’s narrative works best in recounting the early years of the Jackson 5 when the brothers were undeniably united in a musical dream and Michael was unquestionably the coolest little dude anywhere to command a stage. Even here, though, the seeds of Michael’s downfall loom. The insular nature of the brotherhood itself seemed to preclude outside relationships and produce in Michael an overreliance on a unit that was always destined to change, leaving him adrift when it did. Couple that with the young artist's inability to effectively cope with his growing body dysmorphia, and some of the head-scratching events that followed in MJ's life begin to make more sense. Whether Michael was the victim of twisted, uninformed perceptions of him, as Jermaine steadfastly asserts, or was actually the dangerous eccentric portrayed by the media, the view from 2300 Jackson Street is still tragic.

A not entirely convincing but unwavering defense of an unquestionably odd performer, and an intimate look at one of the greatest recording artists of all time.