Reviews of Somebody's Daughter by Ashley Ford

Somebody's Daughter

A Memoir

by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford X
Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2021, 224 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2022, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Book Summary

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 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.

Excerpt
Somebody's Daughter

My mother wanted to be with her boyfriend. He wanted to be with her too, but there was distance, and youth, and there always seemed to be some other woman involved. It would not last between them. He'd come into her life quickly, and he left the same way. The culmination of the first phase of that relationship, the baby, my second brother, was born without ever breathing. My grandmother said he was born small and gray, with an exposed serpentine spine. When she repeated this story, she would push up her glasses, wrinkle her nose, and use her index finger to make a wavy line in the air to illustrate the curve of his body. She said my mother held him for hours, kissed the top of his head, rocked him against her chest.

My mother hadn't wanted to have another baby, not without being married. But abortion wasn't an option, and he kept growing inside her. My mother could not fathom what kind of good Christian woman would end the life of a child, even if she was in ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Ashley discusses what it was like visiting her father in prison, and how the weight of their expectations held them back from spoiling the other's dream (page 17). In what ways have unrealistic expectations set upon yourself and others held you back from connecting wholeheartedly?
  2. As a child Ashley believed that "the badness belonged where it landed" (page 29) and her mother hurting her was somehow in her control. Where do you think this mentality comes from? Do you think this mentality follows a person well into their adult life? If so, can you describe how it affects them as an adult?
  3. As they watch the snakes burn, Ashley's grandmother says that "we don't give up on our people. We don't stop loving them...not even when we're ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Writing with remarkable poise and wisdom, Ford presses home the devastating impact of her assault without sensationalism. At its core, Somebody's Daughter is fundamentally a look at Ford's attempts to forgive others and accept herself, a journey sure to resonate with many. While it is deeply personal, her warmth and openness make elements of her story feel universally relatable. An intersectional angle and a seamless blend of beautiful prose and clear-eyed reflection grant the reading experience the intimacy of a heart-to-heart shared between friends. Ford is a natural storyteller...continued

Full Review (573 words).

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(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Somebody’s Daughter is the heart-wrenching yet equally witty and wondrous story of how Ford came through the fire and emerged triumphant, as her own unapologetic, Black-girl self...Ford’s brilliance as a writer, her superpower, is a portrayal of her mother — who remains unnamed — that is both damning and sympathetic, one that renders this complicated older Black woman’s full humanity.

BuzzFeed
Ashley Ford's much-awaited memoir chronicles her complicated relationship with her father...expect a deeply moving, nuanced story.

Elle
In this beautiful, delicate memoir, writer Ashley C. Ford recounts a childhood defined by her incarcerated father's absence...and she starts a journey toward true and powerful selfhood.

Time
Layering in the complexities of her relationship with her mother, her changing body and a boyfriend who grows abusive, Ford offers a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story.

Washington Post
[A] searing and gorgeous book that allows for unanswered questions.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A potent coming-of-age memoir...Ford creates fully three-dimensional portraits of her mother, grandmother, and other key players, using a child's-eye view to show us their failings and the calculations, negotiations, and survival tactics she developed in response to them. Sure to be one of the best memoirs of 2021.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Journalist Ford debuts with a blistering yet tender account of growing up with an incarcerated father...This remarkable, heart-wrenching story of loss, hardship, and self-acceptance astounds.

Booklist
A remarkable debut.

Library Journal
Moving testimony about the effect of incarceration on the lives of the children and families who live in its shadow. Ford's writing sets itself apart.

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

Author Blurb Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight for Our Lives
Ashley C. Ford went deep into the well of herself and her history and came back to the light with the book now in your hands. A piercing interrogation of who we are?to ourselves and to the people laying claim to us?Somebody's Daughter is an opportunity for each of us to illuminate the ties that bind, entangle, and connect us to one another.

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Beyond the Book

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Assault: Survivors' Stories

In her debut memoir, Ashley C. Ford reflects on the lasting impact of her childhood, most notably the sexual assault she suffered at the age of 14. The process of dissecting trauma through literature is certainly not easy, but doing so can bring catharsis to writers and readers alike.

With assault affecting everyone differently, however, there is no one account that can encapsulate the full impact of this experience. While people of every race, gender, age, sexuality and religion fall victim to sexual assault, the following memoirs focus specifically on women who were assaulted during childhood, exploring the impact on their lives and their respective roads to recovery.

Tragically, it is estimated that a child in America falls victim...

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