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Somebody's Daughter

Somebody's Daughter, by Ashley C. Ford

26/30 | Started 06.03.22 • Finished 06.09.22 | 4 stars

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In this heavy and beautiful memoir, Ashley C. Ford tells the story of finding her way through life as a young black girl with an incarcerated father and a difficult mother. Ford relates an upbringing fraught with poverty, strained relationships, and violence with a tenderness that defies logic. She seems to have arrived at a place where she can look back with care over her young life, with all its flaws and insecurities and self-sabotages and hurts and triumphs.

When children are small, our desires seem small, even if we want the sky. Anything we want seems to be only a matter of time and effort away. It’s too early to imagine what’s already holding you back.

As a girl, Ford's strained relationship with her mother leads her to build walls that keep out anyone who would dare to come near her, to know who she is and what she feels and thinks. She takes some solace in the love of her incarcerated father, who writes her letters brimming with acceptance and pride. But she continues to struggle with feeling that she is inherently bad and always failing and needing to hide.

I told my shadow I wanted to keep the sun. My shadow whispered back the instructions for making a memory. I watched the light of day ascend until it hurt my eyes, then I closed them, and taught myself to remember.

After enduring rape at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, and finding it impossible to tell anyone about it, Ford learns that her father is in prison for the same crime. It is almost too much. But with the help of time and friends, she is able to embrace her love for her father despite his crime. Through a grit and determination that she is either unable or unwilling to recognize in herself at the time, Ford eventually moves into a life that she loves.

I didn’t want to run from my family. I wanted to be who I was, and I didn’t know if that person fit among them anymore. I was afraid to find out that I wouldn’t. My lessons hadn’t always come the way I wanted or hoped, but I was not ashamed of how I had changed, and I was determined to remember that. Sometimes, when I was with my family, I forgot.

I would recommend this book to memoir-lovers and those who are unafraid of heavy and difficult themes. I believe they are worth getting through to see the ending.

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