Book Review: Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford

About the Book:

NBCC John Leonard Prize Finalist
Indie Bestseller

“This is a book people will be talking about forever.” —Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

“Ford’s wrenchingly brilliant memoir is truly a classic in the making. The writing is so richly observed and so suffused with love and yearning that I kept forgetting to breathe while reading it.” —John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author

One of the most prominent voices of her generation debuts with an extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the looming absence of her incarcerated father.

Through poverty, adolescence, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley C. Ford wishes she could turn to her father for hope and encouragement. There are just a few problems: he’s in prison, and she doesn’t know what he did to end up there. 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 desperately searches for meaning in the chaos. Then, her grandmother reveals the truth about her father’s incarceration . . . and Ashley’s entire world is turned upside down.

Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl in Indiana with a family fragmented by incarceration, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.

My Thoughts:

I read this book due to a recommendation from a friend. I did not know what to expect but this story and the writing blew me away. I had not heard of the author or the person before this and so did not know what to expect before reading the book. The synopsis gave me some idea, but honestly it does not even begin to scratch the surface of what is to come.

Author Ashley Ford has written a powerful memoir as her debut novel about her life and experiences while growing up in the 80s and 90s in a poor Black family. Her father was incarcerated and she talks about her journey as she navigates this along with the broken pieces of her family.

The author is candid and courageous as she talks about her experiences, trauma and how everything shaped her. She talks about her difficult relationship with her mother, her feelings towards her father’s incarceration and the support she received from some wonderful people like her grandmother. This journey is one which will gut you and question how the world works, but it is real and something that we should take note of. She focuses on how her feelings changed, how she processed things (though not in a lot of detail) and how she tried to find trust and love in a new relationships and finally how she processed the truth behind her father’s incarceration.

I truly appreciate how difficult it must have been for the author to pen this book and having said that, I admit that it is quite well written. For someone who spends most of her time in the world of fiction, I found this book to be moving and I think that it is worth reading. It has some trigger warnings of rape and abuse among others so I would recommend readers to take note of this before reading the book.


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