When we had out August CBR Zoom Check-in I talked about this book and praised it while warning others away. It is still my prevailing view – Somebody’s Daughter is an absolutely fantastic piece of writing where Ashley C. Ford immerses the reader in her childhood, and it is not for the faint of heart or those who may not be in the most stable mental health space.
You might know Ashley C. Ford from her podcasts or writings for outlets such as BuzzFeed, The Guardian, Slate, and The New York Times. I know her primarily from Twitter from where I was introduced to her other writing. Ford uses Somebody’s Daughter to trace her girlhood, the lived experience of life growing up in her mother’s home while her father served time in prison. Ford seeks to answer the question of what it means to be her father’s daughter, but much of the book focuses on what her life was like with her often emotionally detached and physically abusive mother. As the reader comes to learn, the web of Ford’s life is inextricably linked to both.
To me, the strength in Ford’s writing is the empathy she shows when she writes about people specifically those who have harmed her. Ford possesses the ability to see people for who they are which is always a powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal. What knocks this one down from five to four stars is that while Ford writes vividly about her life the book doesn’t possess a strong enough narrative thread linking the remembrances, or a real reckoning with her trauma and how discovering her father’s exact crime influences that.
CW for absent parent, episodes of physical abuse, sexual assault, rape, toxic relationships
Bingo Square: Free! (from my always excellent library system)