When it comes to summarizing Ashley C. Ford’s childhood, “complicated” feels like an excuse, but it may be the only right way to put it. Full of pain and confusion, full of love and beauty, Ford describes those years in vivid, painful detail in her breathtaking debut memoir. Someone’s daughter, (from June 1st).
Ford grew up in Indiana and cannot imagine a world without her big, noisy, sprawling family and especially the two women who take center stage: her mother and grandmother. Although Ford’s mother is charming and playful at times, she also violently punishes her children for seemingly minor offenses, and Ford learns to work around this apparent split in her personality, which she understands as the difference between her loving “mom” and her punishing “mother” . The tension and stress of waiting for the next outbreak lead to panic attacks, Ford’s precocious intellect that is strangled by fear and abuse. At the heart of it all is the bleak absence of her father, who has been in jail for as long as Ford can remember – and no one will tell her why.
Full of pain and confusion, full of love and beauty, Ford describes those years in vivid, painful detail in her breathtaking debut memoir.
She longs for his love and protection, especially when puberty hits and older men start targeting her. Ford blames himself and learns to be ashamed. “My body grew into something that could only be perverted,” she writes. At the age of 13, a man stops to ask for her number. When Ford tells him her age, he gets angry. “Go home and tell your mother to dress you like you are thirteen,” he tells her. “You hardly received any treatment from a child.” Ford looks at her jeans and T-shirt. “What about my clothes that say I’m not thirteen? What about me when I told the rest of the world I wasn’t a kid?”
Ford’s first relationship ends in a traumatic attack, and soon afterwards she finds out about her father’s crime. Her world is broken, her teenage years swallowed up in chaos and poverty. Ford eventually realizes she needs to flee, even if that means leaving behind the family that defined her for so long.
As hurt as Ford lives, her book exudes compassion. In her mother’s outbursts of anger, she recognizes intergenerational violence and emotional abuse, as well as a determined determination to protect her children. Ford herself wrestles with her love for her father, a man who has committed a terrible crime, and the guilt of knowing she has to leave her family to live the life she wants. There are no proper solutions, only honest ones. In showing that, these sensitive and sharply written memoirs shine.
“In the quiet of the nights that kept coming back at the end of each day, no matter how pleasant or productive the day had been, I wondered if something was wrong with me because I had loved my father in the first place. It made sense why anyone who knew the truth couldn’t look me in the eye when I asked. They didn’t want me to be ashamed, but they were already ashamed of me. I saw it on their faces and pointed in my direction. “
Read this if you want. . .
Searing memories like Educated by Tara Westover, Boys of my youth by Jo Ann Beard and all by Glennon Doyle.
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt (s)
If you’re reading this book for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, use it for the following prompts:
- A book with three generations (grandparents, parents, child)
- A book from 2021
How long does it take to read?
Give this one five to six days – it isn’t too long, but you should take your time on the difficult subject.
List this book. . .
Anyone who likes kinky, emotionally honest family sagas. It is also good to discuss and dissect with your book club.
The sweet spot summary
in the Someone’s daughter ($ 23), Ashley C. Ford reflects a childhood of pain and violence marked by her father’s imprisonment and her mother’s anger and loneliness to find the moments of love that lead her to peace.