A vexing and tedious memoir that offers only brief glimpses of the extraordinary creativity of the King of Pop.

Seven years after his death, Michael Jackson's secret girlfriend reveals their peculiar 20-year relationship.

First-time author Mangatal met her idol while working as a receptionist in Jackson's talent management office. From the beginning, their mutual attraction was obvious to her co-workers; it “was so strong it was impossible to ignore.” Shortly after their first kiss, she "just knew that Michael and I would soon be an official couple. In my mind, he was already my boyfriend." Despite his eccentricities—"every time it seemed he was acting normal and like a regular man—someone I could see myself having a real relationship with—he would revert back to this mask-wearing dude with a little boy by his side. It was difficult to understand”—her obsession remained. Mangatal details Jackson's work on his post-Thriller albums, his competitive nature and perfectionism, and his playful, pranksterish nature, which often came out on video sets. Unfortunately for her, she rebuffed several men and agency clients because "all of my thoughts and focus were totally consumed by one person—Michael." Unfortunately for readers, the author’s prose leaves much to be desired, with many passages seemingly pulled from an eighth-grader's diary—e.g., "Michael was like a drug I was addicted to”; "I am his forever”; and, regarding the child abuse allegations, "this beautiful, sweet soul couldn't harm a fly." The author seems to believe that their chemistry, her (limited) sexual experience with him, and his flirting with women on set definitely proves that Jackson was heterosexual. "Interacting with him,” writes Mangatal, “was sometimes like dealing with a 14-year-old boy—and it wasn’t an act. It was like he had stopped maturing emotionally the moment massive fame snatched away his childhood.”

A vexing and tedious memoir that offers only brief glimpses of the extraordinary creativity of the King of Pop.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61373-617-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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