Harrowing, earnest autobiography takes readers on a tour from incomprehensible evil through unexpected kindness to eventual triumph.
Brown’s story begins in January 1976, when, at age 11, she discovered the body of her mother, dead from a seizure, on the bedroom floor of their home in a San Diego ghetto. Everything plunged downhill from there, as Brown relates in a narrative couched in street slang interspersed with interior monologues (literary devices that the author at times fails to pull off). On her second night in a foster home, Brown was raped on the bathroom floor. She was routinely abused by her sadistic foster mother, yet no matter how many times she escaped, the perversely ineffectual legal system insisted on returning her to her tormentor. She discovered a sense of family in the notorious Crips street gang, but after she was temporarily paralyzed at age 15 as the result of a drive-by shooting, Brown gave up “banging.” That didn’t much slow her descent into extreme drug abuse, serial abortions and domestic violence. At 25, Brown woke up behind a Dumpster and embarked on a period of detox and recovery. The chapters describing this metamorphosis are delivered in the hosanna-drenched, homily-sprinkled style common among 12-steppers, who never seem to hold God responsible for their travails but invariably credit Him with their salvation. Today the erstwhile child prostitute and crack addict is an attorney for a major national law firm.
Brown’s relentless litany of crimes and cruelties tests readers’ endurance and at times makes it impossible to empathize with her younger self. Yet her life’s amazing outcome goes a long way to justify her appealingly inspirational conclusion that maybe anything is possible.