As I’ve mentioned before, being a child is an incredibly vulnerable person to be. Being a Black child who is essentially left orphaned is exponentially more vulnerable. Cupcake Burns had a fairly normal childhood in a middle class suburb of San Diego, California, with a loving mother and father and younger brother. When Cupcake’s epileptic mother dies in her sleep due an epileptic seizure when the girl is only 11 years old is when A Piece of Cake truly begins.
Cupcake’s slow, ordinary, totally predictable childhood picks up speed fast when, following her mother’s death, she and her brother learn that their father is actually their stepfather, and that their biological father, a deadbeat who never relinquished his parental rights in order to keep getting larger social security checks, will now be their new guardian. Though her stepfather tries to fight for the children he loves as his own, he has no legal recourse and they go to their biological father, who immediately pawns them off to an abusive foster mother for an additional check.
At their new foster mother’s house, the children are beaten and starved and Cupcake soon experiences what would be the first of many sexual assaults. Desperate, the girl runs away, soon falling into drinking, drugs, and childhood prostitution. Every time Cupcake runs away, she is dragged back, or placed in other equally abusive homes. Between her foster parents, the people she meets hitchhiking all over the state and turning tricks, Cupcake soon becomes a drug addict. Though she is eventually reunited with her biological family, the years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse already do more than enough damage. Cupcake cannot quit the drugs and soon joins an LA street gang.
A Piece Of Cake: A Memoir is not your typical story of rise and fall. Cupcake falls and rises repeatedly, taking readers on the roller coaster ride of her life in a way that is colloquial and straightforward but never self-pitying or self-aggrandizing. Brown is honest and her experiences raw, only ready to be consumed in that way, no fancy dressing. A Piece Of Cake: A Memoir, while a memoir is also an unfortunately accurate portrayal of the abuses that children endure in the incredibly flawed and overflowing foster care system, which helps some but irrevocably traumatizes so many other abandoned or isolated children. Though a lawyer, with this memoir being her only book, Brown’s writing style, as well as her story, are captivating.
I give this one 5 stars.