A Piece of Cake
by Cupcake Brown
Published in 2005
While I know you are not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover - I totally did. A Piece of Cake is covered in sprinkles and I expected it to be a book about a pastry chef or bakery especially when the author’s name was Cupcake. I was wrong but as I continued reading, I did not regret choosing the book I did. This is a memoir of Cupcake Brown as she fights through drug addiction and alcoholism until she finally reaches recovery and this story is a powerful one. As soon as I finished reading, I immediately reread because I couldn’t believe how she could be so strong enough to go through everything she went through and come out in one piece on the other side. For those struggling with addiction - there is hope.
The book begins when Cupcake Brown finds her mother dead. She is quickly pulled into court when her biological father, who Cupcake has never met, claims custody of her, collects a government assistance check and promptly drops her off at a foster home. Her first few days at the foster home consists of her drinking alcohol, getting raped by the foster mother’s nephew, running away, and stumbling upon a prostitute who lets her smoke weed and then lets her know that the next time a man tries to have sex with her, she should charge them. She was only 11 years old.
Thus begins the cycle - and eventually, her addiction. She is constantly returned to the foster home, which she always runs away from, one time going as far as Los Angeles by hitchhiking with strange men and giving sexual favors as payment. She gets pregnant at age 14 and carries almost to term when the young ladies at the foster home beat her up which causes her to have a miscarriage. When she moves in with her great-aunt, she joins a gang and at 16 years old, just barely survives a shooting. After leaving the gang, she began to lose herself in the world of drugs.
Crack, weed, LSD - she became a “trash-can junkie” as she began to partake in everything and anything she could get her hands on. She manages to get jobs, which she never gets to keep for long due to her always being late or just disappearing as she’s on a bender or completely hungover. Even though she recognizes she has an addiction, she doesn’t think it’s that bad because “at least I can hold down a job”. It isn’t until she wakes up behind a dumpster, barely dressed, and completely strung out after a 3 day black out that she realizes that she needs help. She goes to her current job and her boss helps her get the help she has desperately needed for so long.
Final Rating: 10/10
The experiences of Cupcake Brown just breaks my heart because before she was the survivor she is today, she was a young, innocent 11 year old who should never have had to live through the things she did. I think it is so easy to be caught up in your own safe bubble of life where you read briefly about crazy things happening to others on the news, but you assume that would never - could never - happen to you. At 11 years old, Cupcake never thought this would happen to her either, until it did. Reading this book was uncomfortable at times and I wanted to stop because I myself didn’t know how much I could stand - even though I wasn’t even the one who experienced this. When I read about the miscarriage at 14 and realized I wasn’t even halfway through the book, my heart was full of grief for Cupcake. Even when I knew the path of drugs and alcohol would only bring more despair, I understood what Cupcake was trying to accomplish - she just wanted the monsters, the pain, the shame, and maybe even her life, to just go away.
It is so easy to justify that those addicted to drugs or alcohol are just people that are actively choosing to ruin their life instead of just making something of themselves. But I think that’s our way to put addiction into a neat little box that we would understand. We don’t know the true story of how the person got lost in addiction - and I think we choose to keep it that way. Cupcake Brown is brave because she puts everything on the table and completely opens herself up, not shying away from even the most uncomfortable detail. This gives the reader no choice but to come face to face with the reality that this is the kind of world we live in - that transforms a young girl into a lost soul.
This is a must read for all - to those struggling that need to see that there’s hope on the other side - to those that are too comfortable in their safe little bubble. Most importantly, this is for people who are in positions of power and authority whose job is to create a safe environment for all. This book is not to say all foster homes will fail you, for there are many filled with loving, active foster parents eager to help transform the lives of their youth. But for those that only exist to collect a check and don’t care what happens to their foster children, shame on all of you. There are enough dangers in the world, so please don’t be one of them.
Cupcake Brown didn’t get the help she needed until years down the line - because no one wanted to extend a little kindness or offer themselves as a support. Her father failed her, the foster home failed her, her community failed her. While it is impossible to go back in time and save Cupcake from the neverending abuse she experienced, let this be a wake up call to readers that kindness and understanding should be a Piece of Cake.