I borrowed this book from Randi a few weeks ago. I've heard her talk about this book and I've seen it on several "must read" book lists, so I dug right in. This book is insane. This woman's life is insane. There are not words to do this justice, trust me. The book begins with Cupcake finding her mother dead in their house. Prior to this, it sounds like she had a pretty normal life - it all changes with her mother's death. She quickly find out that her father is not her father - he's her stepfather. Her real father wants the money associated with her mother's death but does not want her. So, she ends up in a foster home where the foster mother beats her and just basically wants the money for raising her. She ends up running away (at age 11), hitchhiking around town and prostituting herself. Oh, this is after she is raped by her foster mom's nephew. The story gets worse and worse - she ends up in a gang, doing drive-by shootings, robbing people, sometimes having a job, sometimes not. She gets heavily into alcohol and drugs, gets shot, moves from place to place scamming people and living in filth. About 500 pages into this book, she ends up living behind a dumpster, turning tricks and smoking crack. She eventually sees herself in the window of a shop and can't believe what she sees. She decides to pray and ask for help and the little voice in her head says to her to go to her boss (somehow she did have a job - a pretty good one, too) and ask for help. Her journey out of the pits of hell is a memorable one. She goes to rehab, joins AA, gets a sponsor and asks for help. Lots and lots of help. She goes back to school, takes 5 years to get her AA, then goes to state school to get her bachelor's degree. Her dream is to apply to law school and she works her butt off to get into law school. The end of the book, she is graduating from law school, surrounded by the people who love and support her through it all. This book is stunning. Unbelievable. Inspirational. Heartbreaking. I highly, highly recommend it.
As an aside, this book also appealed to my teacher side: Cup talk about getting into law school (just one) because the school decided to look at her WHOLE application instead of just the numbers from a test or her GPA. I found this incredibly informative - perhaps one of the reasons we are losing non-traditional students and minorities in school is because of this absurd system of blanket tests with required scores. Maybe we should open up a little more, let a few more people in, and then we might be aiding someone like Cupcake Brown who is now serving her community as a lawyer.