Yes, some memoirs have left us feeling a little bamboozled these days. Rest assured that Ugly (Hodder & Stoughton, $22.57), by first-time author Constance Briscoe, will break your heart into a million little pieces.

In chilling and poetic language, the author, one of England’s first Black female judges, recounts more than ten years of physical and psychological torture at the hands of her Jamaican mother and Barbadian stepfather. One of 11 siblings, Briscoe, a bed wetter, is singled out for beatings at a young age. But the author suspects that it is her resemblance to her Black American birth father that fuels her mother’s rage. “I inherited my father’s broad lips and flat nose, and my mother didn’t approve,” says Briscoe, 49.

In her story she relives the fateful day she decides to drink bleach in the hope that it will wash away the “ugly” germs she believes are inside her. The failed suicide attempt leads to her getting a new lease on life. We won’t give away the story of her remarkable road to recovery, but let’s just say this book is unworthy of its title, since we believe the regal barrister radiates inner and outer beauty. “I haven’t found it easy to be happy,” says Briscoe, who lives in London with her partner, Tony Arlidge, and children, Martin, 19, and Francesca, 16. “But I’m always working on it.”

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Photo Credit: Time Inc Digital Studio

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