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Extended Audio Sample A Piece of Cake: A Memoir Audiobook, by Cupcake Brown Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (9,258 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Cupcake Brown Narrator: Bahni Turpin Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2006 ISBN: 9781415931912
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Eleven-year-old Cupcake Brown woke up on the bicentennial and found her mother still in bed. She struggled to wake her up, pushing and pulling until she managed to tug her mother’s lifeless corpse onto her own small body, crushing her beneath its dead weight. After squeezing out from under her mother, Cupcake calmly walked over to the phone and called her aunt Lori: “Lori, my momma’s dead.” 

Here is the threshold of a hell for young Cupcake. Rather than being allowed to live with the man she believed to be her father—who turns out to have been her stepfather—she is forced into a foster home where the kids were terrorized, the refrigerator padlocked, and Cupcake sexually abused. She eventually fled the house, only to find herself wandering from misadventure to misadventure in the “system,” while also developing a massive appetite for drugs and alcohol, an appetite she paid for by turning tricks. She settled down in Los Angeles and found a home in the Crips, where she was taken in and befriended by gangsters like the legendary “Monster” Kody Scott. For the first time she found a family, but when Cupcake was blasted in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun, she was once more taken in by the system. 

At 16, her stepfather reeneters her life and engineers an “emancipation,” in which the courts declare her an adult and free her, finally, from the child welfare system. Cup takes advantage of her new freedom to start a drug-dealing operation with her stepfather, who also manages a stable of colorful prostitutes. Soon she meets a man, falls in love, and gets married. He convinces her to get a real job and learn to speak proper English—but he also abuses her and introduces her to crack cocaine. Cupcake flits from job to job, miraculously, given that she never fails to show up without some cocktail of narcotics floating in her system. 

She hits rock bottom when, in desperation, she steals crack from her drug dealer. He beats her nearly to death, rapes her, and then leaves her body behind a dumpster. Cupcake wakes up days later, not sure of how she ended up in this state and from that moment begins to turn her life around. She was adopted by a lawyer who ran the law firm where she “worked,” and slowly he assisted her in kicking the habit—with the help of an eccentric group of fellow addicts who became, at last, a family to her—and catching up on her education. With the support of her new family, she eventurally goes all the way to law school (although not without a few additional misadventures along the way) and joins one of the top law firms in the country.

Cupcake’s story is an inspiring, at times hilarious, often distrubing, and deeply moving account of a singular woman who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with wit and a ferocious will. It updates classic memoirs like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Makes Me Wanna Holler, and gives a bold and gritty spin to contemporary memoirs like Finding Fish. At the center of it, Cupcake is a charming and inspiring narrator through the inferno of her life.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 2/18/2014

    " I loved this book.......It is a story of a woman that is handed down one of the harsh's childhoods, and then battles drug addiction. Please look past ALL the foul language, and there is A LOT of it ! This memoir is well worth the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Crystal | 2/11/2014

    " This book was everything but a piece of cake. One of the most depressing but inspiring stories I have ever encountered. It goes to show that no matter what your given, what situation you've been handed, the cards you've been dealt; You can overcome anything and everything given the opportunity. Cupcake Brown is one of the most inspiring people I have ever read about, she was dragged through hell and back and still without a doubt made something of herself. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone. It will make you laugh and cry inside. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Stice | 2/2/2014

    " I LOVE this book! Funny, sad, and heartwarming all at the same time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daiisiiee...x Barlow..x | 1/29/2014

    " this book is a piece off cake lolxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Madelon | 1/25/2014

    " Great start, extremely shocking. End is good, but felt abrupt "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kysha | 1/24/2014

    " Awesome story about struggle. After you read this book, you will never use the word "can't" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leah Duchateau | 1/20/2014

    " This book was totally and completely awesome!! The stuff this poor girl went through in her life is amazing! So many times I sat there going Holy Crap!! To have over come all that happened to her it makes you to hug her and applaud her all at the same time!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 AnnMarie | 1/11/2014

    " WAYYY too long, drawn out. It was a good book but the last 30 pages i skimmed through and barely read. i kinda just wanted it to be over. this girl went thru hell and back and actually couldnt believe this was a true story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shatoya Sims | 1/10/2014

    " Excellent success story! Bio of Cupcake Brown who had nothing or no one, but through it all, she made it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry | 1/5/2014

    " I really liked this tale of triumph over adversity, a great read, you really grow to love cupcake and how she turns her life around is very admirable "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dannielle Brown | 1/4/2014

    " This book was gripping from the start. I read this book about five years ago and must read it again as I remember it being amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen Smith | 1/3/2014

    " Very inspirational. If cupcake can smile and love after the childhood suffering she endured, anything is possible I can't imagine what happens to this poor girl next... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tsanderswoods | 1/1/2014

    " A child's seemingly normal life gets turned upside down after the death of a parent leading to abuse, addiction, prostition...A memoir you will never forget! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracey | 12/24/2013

    " it was sad but I could not put it down "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori | 12/19/2013

    " Great book, I would definitely read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dena | 12/9/2013

    " This was a great memoir. It is so hard to believe this lady is still alive! This would be a great book club book. Lots to talk about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pryce-gary.forbes | 8/9/2013

    " YOOOOOO this book is mad good. i would read this book over again.Thats how good it is. The main character is very strong. I hate her foster mother diane. She is a rude and abusive mother. I dont know how her daughter Connie can sit there and watch her mom beat other people kids. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jwinley | 7/31/2013

    " This was an excellent book and if it wasn't so long I would read again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sanfordgrant | 7/5/2013

    " Had a hard time relating to her. I like to be drawn in to the story and feel like I am a part of their life but the poor writing was distracting. There was not a lot of detail or emotion. Seemed like it was written to shock the reader. Maybe at the expense of the truth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elle Lapraim | 11/26/2012

    " This book was hardcore and not for the faint of heart, but I'm not so I really enjoyed it. Really makes you take a new perspective on your own life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leahe | 11/19/2012

    " It is a great memior//very uplifting "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 10/29/2012

    " Wow! What a tough, but inspiring, life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brittany Elaine | 9/13/2012

    " Moving memoir that I could not put down. Her story is amazing. Proof that no one is "nothing". We all have potential waiting to be used. And also a STRONG commentary on the state of US foster system. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chekemma | 8/14/2012

    " I loved this book. It was a hard read, but so work it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kara | 1/2/2012

    " Such a powerful and amazing life story! I highly recommend! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ericka Brown | 12/29/2011

    " To read about a woman whose life hit almost a point of no return, to only turn around and make something of herself, is just truly inspiring. I loved this book so much! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karla | 11/14/2011

    " This is a book that I will always carry in my heart. The way she survived all her trials and at the end she has a good relationship with God reminds me of my own journey. I would recommended to anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jaylin | 8/22/2011

    " Excellent book. I have enjoyed reading this with my husband during our weekly reading. He liked it; too. I didn't give it 5 stars because I thought it went on a bit about the same thing and I grew exhausted and craved for how it was going to end. It was still insightful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Onecotton | 6/24/2011

    " This is a must read novel. It is the true story of a woman who went from poverty,abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, drugs and gangs to law school and becoming a successful attorney and keynote speaker. Amazing! Inspiring! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kara | 6/22/2011

    " This is the most inspirational book I've ever read! I always recommend this book! I love, love, loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 6/15/2011

    " Loved loved loved. A riveting story -- it is hard to believe it really happened. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 sharon | 6/15/2011

    " A great memoir if you, like me, enjoy a good tragic horrifying story with a happy ending. The happy ending got a little boring for me, frankly. But it's a pretty intense tale with a pretty inspiring finale. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christina | 6/11/2011

    " Probably the best book I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 6/9/2011

    " Amazing story about a woman who overcomes so much in her life (drugs, gangs, prostitution) to eventually graduate from Harvard Law school. I wish it wasn't riddled with profanity so I could suggest it to my students. I listened to it on CD and it was nice to hear her voice tell her own story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heather | 6/7/2011

    " I'm probably not going to finish this one, to depressing for me...... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dara | 6/3/2011

    " This was a pretty crazy story...but with a remarkable ending. Just wish Cupcake didn't repeat herself so often. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole | 5/24/2011

    " Amazing!

    You will never want to put this down. "

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About the Narrator

Bahni Turpin has won numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and three prestigious Audie Awards for her audiobook narrations, and Publishers Weekly magazine named her Narrator of the Year for 2016. She is an ensemble member of the Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles. She has guest starred in many television series, including NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Six Feet Under, Cold Case, What about Brian, and The Comeback. Film credits include Brokedown Palace, Crossroads, and Daughters of the Dust. She is also a member of the recording cast of The Help, which won numerous awards.