• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

In this memoir, Ford shares how she navigated an unforgiving childhood and complicated relationships with her volatile mother and her incarcerated father, all the while figuring out her place in the world.

Ashley C. Ford wishes she could know her father more fully, but he's been in prison since before she could remember, and she's not entirely sure how he ended up there.

In her memoir Somebody's Daughter, Ford explores her complicated relationship with her mother, her endless loyalty to her younger brother, her complex feelings about her father and the idea of him returning home, and more.

"I did not know that there are miles between running out of things to say, and running out of the strength to say them."

As Ford examines her anxiety, her sometimes unhealthy relationships, and the circumstances of her childhood and upbringing, she considers her ties to the man who is her father and how significantly she may have been shaped by the people who made her and the people who raised her.

Her shocked and deeply upset reaction to learning the nature of her father's crime gives way to what feels like an uneasy desire to consider him separately from his actions. His terrible crimes aren't explored at length or explained away, but sit simmering underneath her anxiety-filled attempts to reconnect with the man she's always considered a benevolent stranger, someone she hopes and dreams is capable of loving her unconditionally. In order to forge any relationship with her father, she must navigate this incredibly difficult situation.

“Despite everything my father had done, I was still so eager to be claimed by him. To be protected by him. To the world he was a bad man. To me, he was my dad who did a bad thing. I was still trying to figure out what it meant to love someone who had done such a bad thing, but I did love him. And that was enough for me to show up, and say so to his face.”

Ford feels an intense desire to be her own person, someone both of and separate from her challenging beginnings. Somebody's Daughter is beautifully straightforward and honest as the author follows the fits and starts (and, sometimes, roadblocks) on her path to self-discovery.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I read Ford's memoir Somebody's Daughter around the same time I read the memoir Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, and as I was beginning to read Brandi Carlile's memoir Broken Horses.

These three memoirs have commonalities I didn't expect--though they offer varied voices and tones--and all of them captivated me.