A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown is a compelling, shocking addiction memoir of a woman who had lost her childhood at the age of 9. It is a book I’d highly recommend for those who want to read about the real journey of a child forced to grow up in the foster care system and the lasting, damaging effects it can have on children. Brown’s memoir touches on death, trauma, child abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, child prostitution, the crippled foster care system, substance abuse, gang banging, drug dealing, and recovery.
Shocking and heartbreaking are too light to adequately describe the contents of this book. I applaud Brown for the courage it took to write down what must have been traumatic to go through, let alone relive by writing it down. Although it is a memoir specifically on her life journey in the world of substance abuse, it provided a glimpse into many other social issues. On top of substance abuse, Brown’s memoir shines so much on the rampant, cyclical abuse in America’s very flawed foster care system and the dark corners of child prostitution.
Cupcake Brown’s mother abruptly dies a horrible, horrible death. Days later Cupcake and her brother Larry are given away to a biological father, neither of them had ever met. By the end of the day, the children are taken and abandoned with an extremely cruel, abusive foster parent named Diane. Diane psychologically and emotionally uses and abuses the children daily, and allows her nephew to violently assault Brown. This home results in Cupcake into running away for the first time where she learns a few tips and tricks from a local prostitute in how to profit off of her own abuse. Without giving too much away, this leads Cupcake Brown into the life of addiction, alcoholism, hustling, prostitution, and gang banging for the next 12 years or so. Despite everything that happens in her life, it has one hell of an ending. Ms. Brown now practices family law at one of the nation’s largest law firms and has many, many years clean and sober! Thanks to a couple of incredibly strong, influential mentors in her life, she was able to push through and come out on top.
Again, this book is astonishing. It is not for the weak of heart, there are many graphic details of her abuse which I feel is necessary. It is one thing to hear the word abuse, it is entirely another to envision the powerful details packed into that one word. Every chapter is a page turner that ends in dramatic, climactic cliffhangers. For example, the end of chapter 4 goes, “And in case we’d forgotten—as if we could—she would often remind us that she’d “accidentally” killed before and could “accidentally” do it again” (Brown 31). There are so many complex issues with Cupcake Brown’s book, it’s astounding. She survived purely by hustling, narcotics and herself. She didn’t want to go back into the system resulting in her emancipation and a need to financially support herself. Her memoir presents some of the deep issues at hand behind the foster care system, drug addiction, and homelessness. If you’ve ever driven by someone who was homeless and possibly under the influence, remember they carry a story and a burden with them. They may have not possessed any other choice. According to recent statistics for Los Angeles county, 9% of individuals under the age of 18 are homeless. There’s a possibility they are running away from similar situations as Cupcake Brown.
Overall, her story is immensely powerful and I’m surprised no one has attempted to make a movie out of it. I’d recommend this book for anyone who enjoys compelling and mind-bending memoirs of addiction and sobriety and have the stomach for the vivid details within the book. It’s my second favorite substance abuse memoir (I’ll write another review on my first) and I can’t wait until the movie is made!