I read Cupcake Brown’s memoir, A Piece of Cake after a recommendation from my creative non-fiction class last semester. I really love writing in this genre and was interested to see how full novels turn out, especially after gaining my own experiences. To be critical, I didn’t like how Cupcake ended every chapter. It seemed kind of cheesy to me. For example, she would write things like, “Little did I know, that was the last time I would see him again,” or “But that’s before I really understood what abuse was.” Well, okay, I guess. Now I know what’s coming up, but do I necessarily need to have those expectations? I feel like I would’ve enjoyed reading it straight without the warnings at the end of every chapter. I think it would have had more of an emotional impact on me if things weren’t summed up like that in the novel. Maybe in the acknowledgements or epilogue, but not in the story. In addition to that, I didn’t like how she blew through the last ten or so years of her life. She gave SO many details (which I adored) of her childhood and adolescence, but as soon as we get to reading about her college years, it gets glazed over. SHOW DON’T TELL, CUP!! Maybe that wouldn’t have necessarily been the most interesting part of the story, but there were times when I wanted it to slow down and just give me a little more. Those ten years felt too quick and concise for me.
Asides from that though, I really loved this story. Learning about other people is so fascinating, and she has definitely had a crazy life so far. Some events were obviously pretty hard for me to relate to because I’ve never used crack or prostituted myself, but she wrote in a way that I felt like it were almost my life. It was so easy to relate to her and empathize with her during the wild times, and that was what I loved to read the most. However, another criticism is that it was really difficult for me to feel that same connection with the character after she decided she needed help and started sobering up. Whatever great things she was doing by making the protagonist so easy to relate to she promptly stopped doing when she stopped showing and started telling. That was where I felt a distinct disconnection with the book, and it was unfortunate because I really loved the beginning half so so much. What’re you going to do though, right?