INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NBCC John Leonard Prize Finalist
“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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Family is a source of both comfort and crisis in this courageous debut memoir by podcaster and essayist Ashley C. Ford. She describes growing up as a poor Black girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the 1990s and early 2000s. Her childhood was defined by her fraught relationship with her mother and her idealized picture of her absent father, whom she never met because he was incarcerated. We were touched by Ford’s raw honesty as she tracks the shift from that childhood idealism to a scared and confused adolescence marked by abuse and violence. Even more importantly, Ford captures the small, beautiful moments that truly shaped her, like her tender relationship with her grandmother and her delight in finding refuge at her local library. Somebody’s Daughter is a triumphant story about a woman learning to embrace whatever life throws her way.
Journalist Ford debuts with a blistering yet tender account of growing up with an incarcerated father. She retraces her childhood in 1990s Fort Wayne, Ind., where she lived in a family anchored by her weary mother, whose anger bubbled over frequently, and a judgmental but loving grandmother. Felt throughout is the shadowy presence of her father, who was serving a 24-year sentence for rape. The moving narrative unfolds with tales of childhood misadventures with her younger brother, frequent library visits, and days spent anywhere but home: "I told myself being away was the only way we were going to make it out." Ford writes vividly of having to weather her mother's rage (which "drained the light from her eyes") and rotating cast of boyfriends, while navigating her own sense of shame and abandonment as a teenager fighting to be "loved ferociously and completely" in a series of painful relationships. Though she rarely visited her father in prison, he wrote to her often, and "his letters were clues to where I'd come from." When they finally reconnected before his release, Ford describes their tearful reunion and reconciliation with devastating clarity. "Somewhere, in the center of it all, was my father's favorite girl." This remarkable, heart-wrenching story of loss, hardship, and self-acceptance astounds.
An honest and moving portrayal about a life with complications not often explored. What does it mean to love and be loved by people who have behaved in the worst ways? I was mesmerized throughout. This was a book that caused me to reflect in new ways on my own life and on my judgments of others
Touching and beautifully heart wrenching and heart inspiring
I knew this book would be great, and it was. It was also another level of beauty written in such a lovely voice of hope and purpose.