Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat

I went to the book store one day to kill some time and saw this book on a table. Curious, I picked it up and peeked at the preface. I thumbed through it quickly and raised my eyebrows at some of what I read. I walked straight up to the counter to make my purchase and finished the book two days later.

Patricia Williams is a comedian and I felt her humor throughout the whole book. On more than one occasion I found myself laughing aloud at her descriptions of events. Then I felt a little guilty because of how sad the situation was. But I would read the part over and laugh again. She has a remarkable way of making light of a truly sad situation while also maintaining a serious tone.

She was nicknamed Rabbit as a child and her upbringing was anything but simple and innocent. There were certain events she described that made me frown because she was too young to be exposed to those situations. As an elementary student, she went to school unbathed and in dirty clothes because her mother did not care for her or her sister properly. One of her teachers, Miss Troup, bought her clean clothes and hygiene products and helped her get ready for school in the mornings. Rabbit looked up to her because her kindness ad the fact that she always looked fashionable and put-together, unlike her own mother.

She was thrust into the adult world early through having an alcoholic mother and a 20-year-old boyfriend when she was just 12 years old. Naturally, this particular part disturbed me. Being that she felt in love at such a young age, she latched onto this man and continued some sort of relationship with him longer than she should have. She endured the abuse and his marriage and family with another woman. Rabbit’s mother told him she was only a child, but he ignored her age and she was pregnant by the age of thirteen. Six months after giving birth to her first daughter, she was pregnant again.

After having her children, she did what she felt she needed to do to provide for them. She began selling drugs as a teenager. It’s no secret that this particular business can yield a higher income than a minimum wage job in a much shorter time period. Eventually, she was making enough money to afford her own apartment, car, and name-brand clothing and accessories for her and her children at 16 years old. Of course, this was very risky work and she was arrested and almost killed.

I tend to gravitate toward books or movies where I feel that I have something in common with the main character. However, I didn’t find many similarities with her. My upbringing was much more sheltered than Patricia’s. My parents made sure I was clean, well-fed, had clothes that fit, and a safe place to live. I never needed for anything. I wondered what I would have done if I had been put in the same position as her. The more I read, the more I wanted to know what would happen to her. I wanted to know how she turned her life around. I felt inspired by someone who found the strength to laugh after such a distressing childhood.

If you’re interested in this story, here is a link for the book: