“Even if you don’t know who Ashley C. Ford is (yet), this is a reckoning worth reading. This is a memoir like a hot cup of tea—a coming of age in turns scalding and acidic, but also, finally, after having been steeped in self-aware honesty, uplifting and whole.
Ford opens her memoir with walls, literally and metaphorically: she is in the place she has made safe with her boyfriend, her father is in jail, and her family is walled up within herself; the narrative, then, is about building, moving within, and breaking down those walls. What this means is that she must be truthful about her upbringing as a young Black girl in a complicated family within an unrelenting society, the daughter of an emotionally-stunted mother and an incarcerated father; she must allow herself the freedom to exist as herself outside of the walls she’s built for her protection—and her family’s.
We, as readers, are incredibly fortunate to bear witness to Ford’s vulnerability, her willingness to open herself to the page so fully. This is a memoir as bold as it is soul-soothing, a narrative embodied.”
TW: physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault
One of the most prominent voices of her generation debuts with an extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the ever looming absence of her incarcerated father and the path we must take to both honor and overcome our origins
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.