Cupcake Brown’s memoir, A Piece of Cake, is a literary tour de force- not so much because of her writing (as captivating as it was) but because of her unbelievable tale. Cupcake Brown lets down her walls for the first time, untangling all the lies she’s learned to tell throughout her life in order to protect herself. She jumps through a hurdle of debilitating fear to bring us a fiercely raw, wildly suspenseful, no-holds-barred, and intimate story of how she came to be the woman, motivational speaker, lawyer,and survivor she is today.
Cupcake begins her journey detailing vivid memories of an idyllic life she once lived and what that could have afforded her had the most traumatic event in her life (at the age of 11) not occurred– the sudden passing of her beloved mother and discovering her lifeless body. Instead of seeing a young, vulnerable child fumble through her youth lost without the unconditional love and commitment of a dedicated mother, we see Cupcake Brown go down a dangerous, unpredictable, and treacherous path that involved substance abuse of every drug in the book, domestic violence, gang activities, and child prostitution. Her story of survival, in the unforgiving streets of California’s most notorious neighborhoods, is nothing short of a miracle.
What makes Cupcake’s story stand out from most memoirs is her candid and brutally honest voice- only ever telling it like it is- and at times wrought with an embarrassing, self-deprecating clarity. She writes from the perspective that she has a responsibility for her life’s story; that her actions are not only the result of the circumstances that were handed to her but that ultimately her regrettable decisions were hers and hers alone to make (often heavily influenced and driven by substance abuse and the sometimes misdirected anger at the system that she believes failed her).
This is not just a memoir- this is an important coming-of-age tale that needs to be read by every single adolescent (whether you are White, Black, Asian, rich, poor, well-adjusted, or terribly lost). Not only is this a warning for what can happen to a life interrupted, but this story is a message of hope- that it is never ever too late to do what is right, no matter the cost.