The cover photo shows a young girl smiling as she points a toy gun at the camera. At first glance, the book’s title seems to be American Badass. But the correct name of Jan Beatty’s memoir is American Bastard.
Both titles ring true. Beatty, a poet and writer from Regent Square who was adopted just after birth, calls herself a bastard throughout the book. And the sobriquet “badass” exemplifies Beatty’s determination and doggedness in searching for her birth parents.