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Starting Over

Starting Over

4.3 34
by La Toya Jackson, Jeffre Phillips

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Michael Jackson’s closest sister pulls back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of the Jackson family, Michael’s tortured soul, and her own love for her brother in this intimate portrait of a beloved, yet troubled, pop legend.

In this shocking New York Times bestselling memoir, La Toya Jackson pays heartfelt tribute to her legendary


Michael Jackson’s closest sister pulls back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of the Jackson family, Michael’s tortured soul, and her own love for her brother in this intimate portrait of a beloved, yet troubled, pop legend.

In this shocking New York Times bestselling memoir, La Toya Jackson pays heartfelt tribute to her legendary brother Michael’s tortured soul and offers unprecedented insight into the troubled entertainer’s tragic destruction.

La Toya Jackson was always closer to Michael than anyone knew. Now, she sheds light on the intimate moments she shared with the beloved pop legend and unveils the disturbing behind-the-scenes dealings that she believes foretold his death. Like Michael, La Toya experienced an upbringing that made her vulnerable to exploitation, and her own journey led to hell and back at the hands of her former manager and husband. Here, in vivid and candid detail, she reveals the most painful episodes of her deeply personal story and explores how anyone—regardless of fame, fortune, or status—can be trapped in a cycle of abuse. La Toya ultimately found the courage to break free, rebuild her life and career, and reconcile with her close-knit family. Her unforgettable story will touch the hearts of millions of fans and inspire anyone who feels as if there’s nowhere to go that it is possible to truly start over. . . .

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Pocket Books
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4.28(w) x 6.48(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt



I was lying in a pool of blood on the cold marble floor of my New York City kitchen on April 21, 1993. My heart was beating so hard it felt as if it were about to bounce out of my chest. Every inch of my body was in excruciating pain. I started thinking to myself, This is it. I’m dying. What was my purpose here? I then heard my manager/husband Jack Gordon somewhere above me, talking on the telephone.

“I’ve killed her,” Gordon said. “I think she’s dead. I’ve killed her.”

As I listened to his panicked words, I recalled a conversation in which my brother Michael had warned me about Gordon a few years prior.

“You have to get away from him or he’s going to kill you,” Michael had said.

Not wanting to worry Michael any more than he already was, I didn’t say anything to him about how right he was to be afraid, both for me and for him. Michael knew that Gordon was dangerous, from his then manager Frank DiLeo, and he understood he was taking a great risk to warn me about Gordon. While we talked, Michael interrupted our conversation several times to ask me if Gordon was listening in on another extension. Although I assured him that Gordon was not eavesdropping because he was out of the house, Michael was still frightened. So I didn’t tell Michael that Gordon had threatened to harm him on numerous occasions if I disobeyed the orders Gordon gave me or revealed my abuse at his hands to the world. Instead, I assured Michael, and vowed to myself, that whatever Gordon might do to me, I would never allow him to hurt a member of my family. Michael was relieved. But while my thoughts and voice were forceful, my conviction was meaningless in the face of Gordon’s power, and the harm I knew he could easily inflict on those I loved through his mob ties. The truth, as I knew it, was that something horrible was destined to happen if I didn’t follow his every order and work my hardest to earn him money. I know now that, in his mind, he thought he was my pimp, and I was his prostitute. To ensure my family’s safety, I did everything Gordon ordered me to do, even sitting in a closet all day without moving sometimes. That’s how powerful his control was over me.

I became a pro at anticipating what might set Gordon off. But I wasn’t able to avoid being nearly beaten to death that night in my penthouse. He often invented excuses to punish me, but on this occasion, he didn’t give me any reason or warning. When he came home earlier that evening, I was frightened by his behavior, which was strange. I retreated into the bathroom, and when I came out, Gordon was waiting for me with a look of pure evil on his face. Surely, I was looking the devil straight in the eye. I was terrified.

Although my body trembled and my knees buckled, I ran out of the room and down the hallway to the kitchen. I could feel the blood rapidly pounding, and creating pressure, in my ears. I felt as if I were moving in slow motion, even though I was hurrying away from him as fast as I could. I knew there was no escape, nowhere to hide, and no one to come to my rescue. Gordon hired all of our help from among his Mafia connections. They were paid from money I earned, which he controlled 100 percent and spent to help control and intimidate me.

I was certain this would be the end of my life. I could easily imagine the lies Gordon would tell the world to cover up my murder. The headlines that would probably have read LA TOYA JACKSON JUMPS TO HER DEATH FROM THE BALCONY OF HER NYC CONDO. Or Gordon would bring in a shady doctor to shoot me full of drugs and claim I overdosed. I had no doubt that he knew enough evildoers to help him avoid responsibility. I wondered if my family would investigate, or if they would believe what they were told and never know the truth.

As I was cornered in the kitchen, Gordon came up close behind me. I was so afraid that I could hardly breathe, but I knew better than to beg for mercy.

Without saying anything, he punched me in the face. At 110 pounds, I was no match for him and fell to the floor. I curled into a ball to try to avoid his blows, but they came at me from every direction. He kicked me and beat me with his fists, and it just went on and on. He then picked up a heavy wooden chair and beat my legs with it. This was brutal, even for him.

I couldn’t understand why he was acting this way toward me. I wondered if it was because he had been diagnosed with cancer a few years earlier, and he was taking it out on me. Maybe he was angry that he was sick, or maybe he was afraid he would die. But, as far as I knew, he was in remission. And he constantly kept me working so he could afford to get the best medical care possible. So that couldn’t be it. I knew he had good days and bad days. Maybe this was a bad day. Or maybe there was no explanation and he was just mean. I couldn’t understand how he could live with himself after doing such horrendous things to me.

The beating went on and on. He kept kicking me until there was blood everywhere. I was bleeding from my face, stomach, and vaginal area. As the blood spread around me on the floor, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I came to when he finally stopped beating me. That’s when I heard him talking about how he thought he had killed me.

My blood was everywhere. As I lay there, motionless, one of our staff got a towel and wiped up the evidence of what Gordon had done to me. She immediately washed the towel in the washing machine, so no one could see how badly I had been hurt.

I’m dying, and she’s already helping him to cover up the evidence, I thought.

Gordon had hired this person to be my assistant and housekeeper, but the real purpose was to watch me for him. Still, we spent a great deal of time together, and I was always pleasant. What hurt me more than anything else that night was that this person did nothing to protect or help me. All of the other workers were Gordon’s friends from Las Vegas, where he had a great deal of power. Before I met him, he served six months in prison for attempting to bribe the then chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Harry Reid, and Reid later wrote that he suspected Gordon was behind a car bomb found on Reid’s car. So this person was completely on Gordon’s side and probably feared him as much as I did.

I was in so much pain that it was hard for me to focus. The next thing I knew, several policemen entered the room. That must have been the phone call that Gordon made. But I couldn’t figure out why he called them when he would surely get in trouble. Then I became aware of an object in my hand. I had no idea how it had gotten there.

One of the police officers squatted down near me so he could check my injuries and question me. I tried to focus on his face as he spoke, but everything was blurred.

“Who did this to you?” he asked.

I knew better than to tell the truth because Gordon had often warned me that if I ever spoke of his abuse to anyone, he would kill me or, even worse, kill Michael.

But I didn’t have to say anything.

“Who did this to you?” the officer asked again.

“I did it,” Gordon said.

“Put your hands behind your back,” one of the cops said to Gordon. “You’re under arrest. You’re going to jail.”

They didn’t know Gordon the way I did. He had prepared for this.

He pointed to the knife someone had put in my hand. “She came after me with a knife. It was self-defense.”

I couldn’t believe that after trying to assassinate me, he would try to assassinate my character in an attempt to avoid blame for his awful abuse, on top of everything else he had done to me that night. I would never have come after him with a knife, even to save my own life, and he knew it. I wanted to shout out that it wasn’t true, but I could barely breathe, let alone speak. And of course, I would never have dared to disobey Gordon, especially in front of the police. Luckily, the cops weren’t impressed with his story, and they handcuffed him and led him away.

Gordon knew better than to threaten me in front of the police officers, but he gave me a warning look that told me I’d better not say a word, OR ELSE. Those of you who have been through abuse, or are going through it now, know what those unspoken words meant: I’d get a worse beating than the one I had just received if I didn’t obey him. Not that he needed to warn me. Like so many victims of domestic abuse, I always protected my abuser. Even after he left the room, it was as if he were still watching me.

I was certain I was dying. My ribs felt broken, and the pain in my sides forced me to take short, shallow breaths. Big chunks of blood were coming out of me and forming new puddles on the floor.

And still I was covering up for Gordon. I didn’t want to answer any questions. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I just wanted everyone to go away so I could climb into bed and be alone with my pain, my shame, and my fear. But no matter how much I closed my eyes and wished them away, the cops wouldn’t leave.

“You have to go to the hospital, whether you want to or not,” a cop said. “You don’t have a right to say that you won’t go. You have to get checked out.”

I must have drifted into unconsciousness again because I don’t remember leaving my home, or what the bellhop or doorman must have thought as I was carried out through the opulent lobby of our building. I don’t know whether the police officers called an ambulance or transported me in one of their squad cars, but when I came to, I was in Lenox Hill Hospital. And I wasn’t alone. The person Gordon had hired to watch over me was looking at me with the same expression Gordon had given me when he was led away in handcuffs. I sank deeper into the emergency room cot where I lay, trying to avoid the menacing gaze.

“You’d better not say anything.”

Tears welled in my eyes. I wanted to cry because of the terror I had just experienced, the pain that gripped me now, how alone I was, and how helpless I felt.

But I knew better than to show any emotion, and I was afraid that if I started crying, I would never stop. Before long, a young doctor came in. I immediately began lying because I knew that what I said would be reported directly back to Gordon.

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said. “You don’t have to do this.”

The doctor clearly didn’t believe me. He gently moved his hands over my torso and legs, trying to measure the damage. I kept myself from wincing at his touch.

“Does this hurt?” he asked.

“No. Don’t touch me there. Please. It’s okay.”

“Well, we need X-rays.”

“No, you don’t have to do that,” I said. “I’m fine. Can I go home, please?”

I forced myself to sit up, even though the pain was excruciating, just so the doctor would think my injuries weren’t bad and allow me to leave. I checked myself out and refused to make a follow-up appointment. Once outside, the Town Car that Gordon and I kept for traveling within the city was waiting for me. The staff member and I rode home in silence. All I wanted was to get into bed before Gordon was released from custody and came home to torment me further.

The ordeal was not yet over. An assistant district attorney came over with several people the following day and insisted she be allowed to check up on me. Gordon’s hired help refused. The assistant district attorney kept up until she finally got her way. When she first saw me, she gasped. I could understand her reaction. I felt like the Elephant Man. My left eye was swollen shut and my right eye was black-and-blue. My lips, which were the size of a saucer, were so big and swollen that I could not close my mouth. Saliva constantly dripped out, no matter how often I inhaled to try to keep this from happening.

“Would you like to press charges?” the assistant district attorney asked.

“No, thank you,” I said.

No matter how painful and uncomfortable my injuries were, I definitely knew better than to do that.

“Can I at least take pictures of your injuries?” she asked.

The hired help intervened then, defiantly. “Absolutely not.”

The assistant district attorney tried to convince her.

“No, no, no!” the woman said.

She knew that if pictures of my face got out, Gordon would be in a great deal of trouble, and she took her job to protect him seriously. As desperate as I was to receive help of any kind, I didn’t dare speak up. I actually wished the people would stop trying to help me and leave me alone. I was still convinced that if I could just find the perfect way to behave around Gordon, I could make the situation better. Little did I know, it would only get worse.

© 2011 Ja-Tail Publishing Company

Meet the Author

La Toya Jackson is the fifth of the famous Jackson siblings. A beloved international superstar in her own right and a bestselling author, she earned public respect and affection for her triumph over her abusive relationship. Recently, she completed her forthcoming album Startin’ Over. She has been seen on many television programs, including Celebrity Apprentice.

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Starting Over 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
pitt03 More than 1 year ago
I recommend that EVERY person who ever loved Michael Jackson read this book. Not only does Latoya gives details about her life with her ex-husband Jack Gordon, but she gives CHILLING details about Michael's final days, and AFTER his death. She stated that the kids told her that Michael would sit "freezing, by the firplace crying" Michael left the names of the people involved in his ultimate demise on notes in his bedroom. My love for him is even greater after I read this book. I am convinced that justice will be done.
NancyJensen More than 1 year ago
Starting Over is an extremely well-written and fascinating look at the life of La Toya Jackson. From the first sentence, the book captured my attention with the riveting story of how Ms. Jackson met the nefarious Jack Gordon, how Gordon was able to deceive her and win her trust due to her sheltered upbringing, and the terrible torments and beatings she withstood until finally, through desperation and courage,and with the help of brother Randy, she was able to escape Gordon and the nightmarish life she led with him. It is amazing to read about her double life, having to appear happy and content while performing, while inside she was living in fear and dread of her next beating. Having had the pleasure of meeting the author at her book signing in New Jersey, it was very painful for me to have met such a lovely, beautiful and kind woman and then to read about the torture that she withstood. Victims of spousal abuse would do well to read her story as it will give them hope that someday they will get the courage to free themselves from their nightmare and start over to become the strong people they were meant to be. In the book Ms. Jackson also writes of her relationship with her brother Michael, and her suspicions about who may have been behind his death. Pay close attention to this, as the upcoming trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Mr. Jackson's attending physician at the time of his death, is coming up in September. Ms. Jackson relates her brother's fears that people surrounding him at the end of his life wanted to murder him for his music publishing catalog, and that Dr. Murray was the fall guy in this plot against him. If you ask yourself why people are executors of Jackson's will that had been out of his life for years and only came back in right before his death, people that he no longer trusted, you can't help but wonder if this was his real last will. His sister is on a quest for justice for her beloved brother, and she reveals his suspicions about those around him. This is a must read. I started reading it on line at the book signing and later couldn't put it down until I had read the whole thing! I read a great deal and rarely have this experience!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was surpised...this is such a good book. I could not put it down. It makes me so sad that she had to go through that cycle of abuse. I' m glad that La Toya finally found the courage to escape from this horrible monster, he was nothing but a piece of fiflth. This book is no doubt one of the best books that I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book reveals what goes on behind the scenes in the world of greed, envy and by those who pull the strings. It explains things you won't hear in television interviews. Questions I've had were answered and certain things made more sense.But I never trusted La Toya after what she said about Michael, the very worst things! She admits in the book how terrible it was but doesn't go as far as to quote herself. Fair enough; at least now I can see the reasoning behind it. She points the finger at DiLeo often for legitimate reasons. I felt the book was honest in it's content, but not wholly truthful. Many points are contradictory or unexplained. For example, Michaels wealth exceeded many lifetimes of fortune then later says Michael desperately needed money, she also said at one point MJ couldn't afford 3 million dollars, then elaborates he was worth so much that people wanted him dead just to have a piece. That Tohme was up to no good, but leaves out the fact that Jermaine is no better. And the "notes" ... does she even have them? Or did the threat of being sued cause her to return them? If she doesn't have them then her word means nothing. I feel there are many statements in these pages she'll come to regret in the future, not for her own sake but Michael's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flow of the writing: There is waaaaayyyyy too much repetition when explaining events in this book. Plenty of time while reading, I found myself thinking "Enough already; I get it..." This book would have been 1/4 shorter without the writers going around in circles Credibility: Ok, this one is going to take a minute. Let's just say I found some of the events (and the reasons behind why they happened) rather questionable. I was literally side-eyeing my Nook after about 1/3 of the way into the book. Where shall I begin? The most glaring theme that stuck out, to me, was the complete lack of responsibility the writers assign to the Jackson family for all these mishaps. Nothing is ever their fault. Everyone else is ALWAYS responsible for all things bad, and they are seen as just a bunch of innocent, naive victims. Not buying it. No one, and I mean NO ONE is that completely stupid and helpless ALL the time, I don't care what religion you grew up in. The book reads as if hardly anyone in the family has any common sense...even Joe, which I know cannot be true. The explanations behind MJ's demise is the most hard to believe. Ok, so he feared for his life because of the billion dollar catalog he bought in the 80s....whey not sell it? A music catalog is worth your sanity? Your life? Man you got kids, what the hell? Plus, he was supposed to be cash poor...$500 million from the sell of the catalog would not have paid his bills? He owed $200 million to BofA, his major debt. He would have still had $300 million to play with plus checks from royalties and other business ventures every year. He could have sold Neverland too, that would have been a nice chunk of change. He could have had cash…why hold on to this stuff? You see what I mean? COMMON SENSE. The writers say MJ would express concern about certain shady people, but then turn right around and sign a contract which included these same people...why keep getting into contracts with people you don't trust? Why not cut your contract with Sony, or wait until it was up and move to another label? You see what I mean? COMMON SENSE. The 50 shows; he said he only agreed to do 10 and it was in writing...yall ain't got copy machines in Hollywood? Did he seriously not have a copy of that agreement? There is no misreading the number 10 for the number 50 on a typed contract, how exactly did they ‘sneak’ that one up on him? And this whole idea that it was OTHER PEOPLE who kept family and friends away from him is just laughable to me. If he really wanted to see them that bad, he could have fired the person refusing to give him his messages or called the police on the person blocking his gates. I'm sure at some point people told him they couldn't get through previously. The only thing I do find credible is that they were letting him indulge in his drug habits with no concern for his health. I do believe that, which is wrong, said, and horrific, especially since is caused his death.However, this other stuff? Two and two just do not equal four. I have my own theories of what really went down: it’s a combination of shady, money-hungry people after a buck, and a select few members of the Jackson family foregoing COMMON SENSE for lucrative deals….yeah, I said it. This describes a disaster waiting to happen. Overall, the book was insightful, but it would have been more believable if “they” were not the blame for everything.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book very good
dggibbet777 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book from La Toya what a amazing story of strength and courage this woman posses. What a amazing story of the love of a brother that was loved by so many. La Toya keep up the fight for Michael...be his voice...be his justice. Please don't miss the opportunity to read a amazing book. Michael we will always hold you in our hearts...we love you more!!!
Erica Singleton More than 1 year ago
This book was great !! From the moment that I started reading I couldn't put it down! It really made me think. And I cant wait to see people brought to justice for what they did to Micheal! I promise you that this book is worth every penny spent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just started reading and can't putbook down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great boook
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whether you find LaToya a bit off key on her ideas behind her brothers death, I believe she told a courageous story of personal struggles throughout some of her life that was neatly written. As a viewer from the outside as the rest of the world, I can say I'd never imagine a story like this could be lived by someone who seemed to mask it so well. At first I was thinking of how narrow minded she seemed but then I realized how much of the world we know when it depends on how and where we are raised and learn from (religously and nonreligously). I will also add that some of the details made me have to put down the book because it was so much to swallow and I (maybe too sensitive) really felt bad for her and women like her going through such abuse. However the end leaves you seeing a woman of much courage and inspirational strength.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful but disturbing book that leaves the reader full of so much empathy that one wants to embrace Ms. Jackson and commend her on being a survivor and for keeping the faith. This is a phenomenal read that is not just some "celebrity tabloid biography"... it's a poignant, engrossing account that only a loving big sister could write. Profoundly moving, full of raw emotion, engrossing, spiritual and could very well become a classic. You won't be disappointed!
Jennifer Clark More than 1 year ago
Such a great book
CharJ58 More than 1 year ago
This book was well written and thought provoking. Finally a true look into the life the Jacksons led..life ain't been no crystal stair for them either! I pray justice is found and served so Micheal can RIP. KUDOS to Latoya for finding the strength to...Start Over!
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