Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat

There are very few laughs in standup comic Patricia Williams's autobiography, but she and co-author Jeannine Amber have crafted an unforgettable and harrowing portrait of growing up in abject poverty in Georgia. 

Williams (aka Ms. Pat) and her four siblings were raised by an alcoholic single mother who would vent her anger inside their apartment by shooting her .22 pistol in the air. "Mama fired that pistol the way other parents raise their voice," writes Williams. "Every time she got aggravated, we feared for our lives." Mama's remedy for everything from chicken pox, trench mouth or fleabites was "rub some Vicks on it." At age eight, Williams (nicknamed "Rabbit") was taught to roll drunks for their pocket money. When she was 12, she started dating a 20-year-old married man who got her pregnant a year later. At 15, she was the mother of two and a seventh-grade dropout with only one option for making money: selling crack cocaine on the streets. Calling herself a "part-time entrepreneur," she discovers she has a knack for this dangerous business and is soon making $5,000 to $6,000 a day in profit. But when a Miami drug cartel moves in and starts shooting drug-dealing competitors in the streets, her situation turns deadly.

Williams's account of growing up poor, black and female is hard-edged, gritty and riveting. Readers will be rooting for this spunky survivor every misstep of the way. Her eventual escape from her family's long history of drug addiction, crime and violence is truly inspiring. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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