Ugly, by Constance Briscoe (Hachette Livre, $36.99):
Told she was ugly and subjected to unimaginable abuses at the hands of her mother, Constance Briscoe survived an awful childhood to become a practising barrister and one of the first black women to sit as a judge in the United Kingdom.
Reading the story of her childhood is hard work but also compelling.
The story pulls snippets of her life together in a book that reads a little like a journal — her feelings, fears and sometimes her anger laid bare.
At the age of 12, Constance decided on her career path after a school trip allowed her to cross paths with barrister Michael Mansfield. She never faltered from that path, even with the horrors she was forced to endure.
Verbal abuse, beatings and stress so bad it made her hair fall out, could not stop her.
Neither could being abandoned in an empty house and being forced to pay rent to her mother, or having to work two jobs to pay that rent and buy food.
As awful as this book is, it is also inspirational.