A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

10382547Cupcake 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, and 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, violence, domestic abuse, 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 awardterribly lost) because 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. 

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Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

Paris’ suspenseful debut novel finds an old familiar tale of domestic abuse gone even wronger (if I may). At times this book captured my wavering attention and other times I found myself annoyed by its repetitiveness and its increasingly outrageous premise.

behind-closed-doors

The abuser/husband imprisons his new wife (who once mistakenly fell for his prince charming cloak) and always manages to stay one step ahead of her, however, not in any way that is believable but rather extremely unlikely. There were times when this author could have saved the novel but Paris chose to pave a road that led down to a predictable ending and I was truly glad it ended.