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Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody's Daughter

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Ashley C. Ford, on your first book!
Once a year, we break our own rules and share a book from earlier in the year that wowed us.

by Ashley C. Ford

Quick take

A moving coming of age memoir about the complications of family provides ample testament to the resilience of love.

Good to know

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    Critically acclaimed

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This book contains scenes that depict sexual assault and abuse.

Why I love it

Jerrod MacFarlane
BOTM Editorial Team

It is estimated that 113 million Americans have had an immediate family member who was incarcerated and 6.5 million are currently experiencing it. This undoubtedly is one of the most significant molders of the modern American family. What a gift then that we now have Somebody’s Daughter, a lively and rich memoir from someone who experienced it firsthand about grief, love, family, and the grace and creativity it takes to grow into ourselves.

Ashley C. Ford always felt a special bond with her father. But for most of her life she knew him more by his absence than his presence. Having committed a terrible crime when Ashley was only a child, he spent decades of their lives behind bars. But one day after twenty years of few visits and almost no communication, Ashley decides to write to him. That letter then initiates a rich, challenging, but ultimately loving exchange between father and daughter. Alongside this exchange we watch as Ashley grows into a remarkable woman, experiencing many lows and highs, including the eventual release of her father and their joyous reunion.

Do yourself a favor and add Somebody’s Daughter to your cart right now. This memoir is one of the most moving, thoughtful, and beautifully written books of the year. It will challenge you and might elicit a few tears. But boy will you be thankful for its ample delights.

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For as long as she could remember, Ashley has put her father on a pedestal. Despite having only vague memories of seeing him face-to-face, she believes he's the only person in the entire world who understands her. She thinks she understands him too. He's sensitive like her, an artist, and maybe even just as afraid of the dark. She's certain that one day they'll be reunited again, and she'll finally feel complete. There are just a few problems: he's in prison, and she doesn't know what he did to end up there.

Through poverty, puberty, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley returns to her image of her father for hope and encouragement. She doesn't know how to deal with the incessant worries that keep her up at night, or how to handle the changes in her body that draw unwanted attention from men. In her search for unconditional love, Ashley begins dating a boy her mother hates; when the relationship turns sour, he assaults her. Still reeling from the rape, which she keeps secret from her family, Ashley finally finds out why her father is in prison. And that's where the story really begins.

Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she provides a poignant coming-of-age recollection that speaks to finding the threads between who you are and what you were born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Somebody’s Daughter.

Member thoughts

All (4033)
All (4033)
Love (1789)
Like (2005)
Dislike (239)
4076 ratings
  • 44% Love
  • 49% Like
  • 6% Dislike
  • Seattle, WA

    This was a mirror I didn’t expect but also couldn’t turn away from. It took me on an emotional roller coaster but also nourished me. I ear marked several passages that described things I never could.

  • Saint Paul, MN

    I am grateful for the chance to sit in on Ashley's world for a short while. Emotional yet concise, Somebody's Daughter grapples with a snake's nest of family, trauma, and individuality. So powerful.

  • Stoughton, WI

    Excellent writer and one who captures her history in a way that teaches others the challenges of missing a father who is in prison and a mother who struggles and a grand who picks up the pieces...

  • Glenpool, OK

    Memoirs are not my typical genre. I picked up this book so I could finish a reading challenge before Dec 31st. This book was both heartbreaking and beautiful. I absolutely loved Ashley's story!

  • Kansas City, MO

    I don’t have words to express the emotions this book stirred in me. Ashley Ford is an amazing women, and I’m so thankful she chose to share this piece of herself with the world. ❤️

  • Inglewood , CA

    This book was so profound and awing! I truly haven’t read anything both this beautiful and unnerving in some time. I give this book 5 stars and would tell anyone to give it a chance!


    A beautiful, tragic, gut-wrenching close-to-home memoir. Here’s to parents, who aren’t really parents, and grandmas, who can provide a certain type of light despite darkness

  • Westminster, SC

    I read this memoir in one sitting. Ford's writing is superb, and it was so heartfelt--the back and forth with her mom and her relationship with her grandmother. Everything.

  • Lisle, IL

    This book was beautifully written, beginning to end. Sensitive topics that are hard to read at times. If you feel like a short memoir, a journey with the author, this is it.

  • Huntington, NY

    Reading this book felt like a gift and privilege. Some memoirs are guarded and perhaps a bit cold, but this book is vulnerable and raw. The writing is incredibly beautiful.

  • Natrona Heights, PA

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully-written memoir. Ashley is a warrior who offers tremendous perspective through life's many ups and downs. I highly recommend!

  • Santa Monica, CA

    Was expecting it to be more about her relationship with her father but I was really touched by the honest depiction of her family, identify, and overcoming challenges.

  • Vancouver, WA

    A short book with brutal moments, yet it still manages to be hopeful. I thought it also could have been longer, but I think Ford told exactly the story she wanted to.

  • La Crescent, MN

    Hard story to read. I felt bad for this whole family. I guess they all tried their best with what they had. Kind of…lots of wasted love lost with all of them.

  • Platte City, MO

    Despite this memoir covering such heavy and dark subjects, I found myself smiling and laughing just as often as I scowled or wanted to cry. This book is brilliant.

  • Winter Haven, FL

    An honest, heartfelt, raw look at how our upbringing becomes the lens through which we see the rest of our life, and the struggle to reframe that lens as adults.

  • Ephrata, PA

    What a great memoir. She discussed her battle between the person she is and the life she was born into. Reminds us how we should find strength in our struggles.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    What a beautiful debut. So raw, vulnerable, and emotional. Plus, as a Ball State alumna and Indianapolis resident, I loved all the mentions of places I love.

  • Oak Park , IL

    This is an extraordinary book, she is such a tight writer and really in control of what you learn about her life with her family and when/how you learn it.

  • Ellicott City, MD

    A beautifully written, touching memoir. I loved finally reading this after hearing Ashley on many of my favorite podcasts when her book first came out!

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