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