"I don't even know how to change her diaper," Suzan said tearfully when she brought newborn C. J. home from the hospital. Seventeen, unmarried, and living with her parents, Suzan adored her little girl, even as she was overwhelmed by caring for her. Thus the stage was set for a conflict-ridden mother-daughter relationship that continues to be complicated even now, forty-three years later.
By turns heart wrenching, funny and bizarre, Uppity is C. J.'s account of growing up with an abusive mother who was turning tricks by the time C. J. was a toddler. On the one hand, Suzan made sure that wherever they lived, her daughter got the master bedroom suite, while Suzan and her husband had a smaller room. On the other, she insisted that C. J. do all the housework and took photos of her beautiful daughter to send to her "customers" when she went to work for a phone-sex line. While C. J.'s friends thought foul-mouthed, eccentric Suzan was "cool" and funny, C. J. lived with the knowledge that the next beating could happen at any moment-any time Suzan thought she was being "uppity."
Anyone from an abusive home will recognize C. J.'s heartbreaking attempts to earn her mother's love and to keep from "provoking" her. Ultimately, this is a tale of survival and even triumph, as C. J. claims her own identity and makes a good life for herself-even maintaining a relationship with Suzan. Most of all, Uppity is a tribute to the human spirit.