4 reviews

A Piece of Cake: A Memoir
by Cupcake Brown

Published: 2006-02-28
Hardcover : 480 pages
20 members reading this now
14 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 4 members
There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness.

Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she’d even turned ...
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There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, or homelessness.

Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she’d even turned twenty.

And that’s when things got interesting….

You have in your hands the strange, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating tale of a woman named Cupcake. It begins as the story of a girl orphaned twice over, once by the death of her mother and then again by a child welfare system that separated her from her stepfather and put her into the hands of an epically sadistic foster parent. But there comes a point in her preteen years—maybe it’s the night she first tries to run away and is exposed to drugs, alcohol, and sex all at once—when Cupcake’s story shifts from a tear-jerking tragedy to a dark comic blues opera. As Cupcake’s troubles grow, so do her voice and spirit. Her gut-punch sense of humor and eye for the absurd, along with her outsized will, carry her through a fateful series of events that could easily have left her dead.

Young Cupcake learned to survive by turning tricks, downing hard liquor, partying like a rock star, and ingesting every drug she could find while hitchhiking up and down the California coast. She stumbled into gangbanging, drug dealing, hustling, prostitution, theft, and, eventually, the best scam of all: a series of 9-to-5 jobs. But Cupcake’s unlikely tour through the cubicle world was paralleled by a quickening descent into the nightmare of crack cocaine use, till she eventually found herself living behind a Dumpster.

Astonishingly, she turned it around. With the help of a cobbled together family of eccentric fellow addicts and “angels”—a series of friends and strangers who came to her aid at pivotalmoments—she slowly transformed her life from the inside out.

A Piece of Cake is unlike any memoir you’ll ever read. Moving and almost transgressive in its frankness, it is a relentlessly gripping tale of a resilient spirit who took on the worst of contem-porary urban life and survived it with a furious wit and unyielding determination. Cupcake Brown is a dynamic and utterly original storyteller who will guide you on the most satisfying, startlingly funny, and genuinely affecting tour through hell you’ll ever take.

When it came time for me to talk, I wasn’t sure which parts of my past to tell, which to keep secret, and which to pretend never happened. Uncle Jr. had already seen the welts on my back, so he wasn’t too surprised when I told them about some of the physical abuse I endured at Diane’s. Everyone else hit the roof, except Daddy. He got really quiet and started balling and unballing his fists.

I continued my update. Experience had taught me that adults have trouble accepting the idea of children having sex. I decided that from then on, that part of my life never happened. I picked up the story by telling them about Fly, the Gangstas, and getting shot.

I was dying for a cigarette. So it seemed a good time to announce that I smoked cigarettes—and weed.

After a moment Sam looked at me, smiled, and handed me one of her Marlboros. I preferred menthols, but beggars can’t be choosers. I kicked back, took a long drag, and closed my eyes.

Daddy and Jr. were silent. They seemed a bit shocked and unsure about how to respond.

“Well, Cup,” Jr. said, “it’s a little too late to be trying to raise you now. But those cigarettes will kill you. And weed will only lead you to stronger drugs.”

He didn’t know how right he was. But for me, it was too late to be worrying about stronger drugs—the only worrying I did was whether I could find a connection to get some. So I just smiled, nodded, and took another hit off my cigarette.

The eerie quiet returned.

—from A Piece of Cake

Also available as a Random House AudioBook and eBook.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



The booming music coming from Momma’s radio alarm clock suddenly woke me. I could hear Elton John singing about Philadelphia freedom.

I wonder why Momma didn’t wake me? I thought to myself.

It was January 1976. Wasn’t no school that day. But Momma still had to go to work. So, while Momma was at work, I was goin’ over to Daddy’s house to play with Kelly, the daughter of his lady friend. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Is Cupcake the victim or the villian? Does this change in the book?
by pbenson (see profile) 04/15/10

This book had some great questions in the back of the paperback version,
Do you think Cupcake would have used if she had not went into Foster Care but stayed with Daddy?
What did this book make you think abouot what you could accomplish in your own life?
by kboch (see profile) 03/05/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

We found ways to have fun with this one.
by kboch (see profile) 03/05/10
We put up post it notes with affirmations addressed to each member. We made them pretty corny. Food was tough for this one. We served "trash can burgers" Little sliders wrapped in wax papaer and served from a small trash can. Cupcakes of course. Banana split Trifle (in honor of the Dairy Queen scene.) chicken nuggets. We had good and plenty sorted by color and labeled uppers and downers. Wine from Cupcake vineyard as well as something labeled as "cheap red wine" And of course some "All natural white wine." And of course cupcake's signature drink, although we did have coke and ice available since none of us are truly alcoholics. We used red and blue bandanas as table accents. I personally wore my "colors" and my 4 inch heels of course. If it had been summer I may have felt the need to find a green tank dress and shown up shoe-less.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Anitre Y. (see profile) 07/16/19

by Bianca A. (see profile) 11/24/18

by Kia S. (see profile) 10/20/18

by katie l. (see profile) 05/12/14

  "Piece of Cake"by Paula B. (see profile) 04/15/10

An appalling book that will make you want to throw it down almost immediately,(its very difficult to stomach at times) but you won't be able to because it's also terribly addictive. You really want to... (read more)

  "Difficult to read but soooo worth it."by Kathy B. (see profile) 03/05/10

If you are looking for a light, feel-good book stay away from this one, but if you want a book that can make you feel from the depths of your soul-- anger, hurt, sadness, laughter, and pure ... (read more)

  "A Piece of Cake"by Shaun H. (see profile) 03/04/10

Thought provoking and an interesting look into a life that I could never imagine. I appreciated her honesty and insightfulness into her own situation. I'm not sure how many people could shar... (read more)

  "Life is not always a Piece of cake"by Kimberly M. (see profile) 01/10/07

What would you do if you found your mother dead, your father is really your stepfather and your real father only wanted you for the insurance money. Cupcake Brown has a story to tell that will take you... (read more)

  "A look into the life of an recovering addict, her trials and tribulations and amazing survival of what she encountered through her life."by Danay B. (see profile) 12/24/06

I thought that this book was a good discussion book, although a little wordy, it still managed to keep you interested in what Cupcake was going to say and or do next. I am just amazed at how she survived... (read more)

  " hard to imagine that a young person was able to survise what she had gone through and was still able to become a suscess"by wanda b. (see profile) 12/24/06

good story line
strong characters
good location and period

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