cover image A Piece of Cake: A Memoir

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir

Cupcake Brown, . . Crown, $24.95 (470pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-5228-8

Cupcake Brown (that's her real name) was 11 in 1976 when her mother died. Custody of Brown and her brother was given to a stranger—their birth father—who only wanted their social security checks. He then left them with an abusive foster mother who encouraged her nephew to rape Brown repeatedly. Brown got better and better at running away. A prostitute taught her to drink, smoke marijuana and charge for sex. Her next foster father traded her LSD and cocaine for oral sex. Eventually she went to live with a great-aunt in South Central L.A., where she joined a gang. Almost 16, having barely survived a shooting, she decided to quit gangbanging. Drugs were her new best friends. A boyfriend taught her to freebase, but then there was crack, which was easier. Before long she was a "trash-can junkie," taking anything and everything. It wasn't until she woke up behind a Dumpster one morning, half-dressed and more than half-dead, that she admitted she needed help. Brown conveys this all in gritty detail, and her struggle to come clean and develop her potential—she's now an attorney with a leading California firm and a motivational speaker—ends her story on a high note. Booksellers, watch out—Cupcake's gonna sell like hotcakes. (On sale Feb. 28)