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Somebody's Daughter

A Memoir

Ashley C. Ford

Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book

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ISBN10: 1250203228
ISBN13: 9781250203229

Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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Finalist for the NBCC's John Leonard Prize for Best First Book

Through poverty, adolescence, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley C. Ford wishes she could turn to her father for hope and encouragement. There are just a few problems: he’s in prison, and she doesn’t know what he did to end up there. 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 desperately searches for meaning in the chaos. Then, her grandmother reveals the truth about her father’s incarceration . . . and Ashley’s entire world is turned upside down.

Somebody’s Daughter steps into the world of growing up a poor Black girl in Indiana with a family fragmented by incarceration, exploring how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. As Ashley battles her body and her environment, she embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.


Praise for Somebody's Daughter

"Somebody’s Daughter is the heart-wrenching yet equally witty and wondrous story of how Ford came through the fire and emerged triumphant, as her own unapologetic, Black-girl self."The New York Times

"Perhaps the greatest contribution Ford makes is to offer her story—written in the most lively and lucid prose—in its most raw and unabridged form . . . By telling her truth so honestly and authentically, Ford invites us to tell ours, too."The Washington Post

"Somebody’s Daughter will leave readers gasping for air."—Natachi Onwuamaegbu, The Boston Globe

"Rather than reduce these painful memories to a reflective interpretation, Ford lifts the language into a shimmering lyric register that is polyphonic . . . Her understanding that the ones we love are imperfect crafts a shining star for the reader to follow."San Francisco Chronicle

"A shining example of story and craft that embodies how exquisite a memoir can be."—Sarah Neilson, The Seattle Times

"Ford executes her task with both unstinting honesty and rare tenderness toward the deeply flawed, but steadfast, circle of adults who raised her. The resulting portraits, of her mother and grandmother, in particular, are remarkably vivid and humane, haunting the reader long after one has closed the book’s pages . . . "LA Review of Books

"Ashley C. Ford, a journalist and host of the Chronicles of Now podcast, makes her much-buzzed book debut with an intensely personal story: her relationship with her incarcerated father."Lebanon-Express (OR)

"Layering in the complexities of her relationship with her mother, her changing body and a boyfriend who grows abusive, Ford offers a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story."Time

"I think it’s going to resonate with so many young girls of color who grew up in this kind of adversity and how you can come up out of that."—

"Ford’s vulnerability on the page is an extraordinary feat, as she masterfully traces how the yearning girl she once was became the empowered woman she is today."Esquire

"A radiant coming-of-age memoir."Oprah Daily

"Her coming-of-age story gets at how to both acknowledge and break away from what we’re born into."Cosmopolitan

"In this beautiful, delicate memoir, writer Ashley C. Ford recounts a childhood defined by her incarcerated father's absence . . . and she starts a journey toward true and powerful selfhood."Elle

"Ashley C. Ford writes with lyrical vulnerability . . . Her most powerful personal essays have delved into her girlhood, race, incarceration, poverty, and family ties—themes she expands on in this recollection of her childhood and her father’s imprisonment."Garden and Gun

"The story of her wrenching upbringing and her hard-won journey to peace."Entertainment Weekly

"With a lucidity that is almost a superpower, [Ford] transports us into her singular experience of growing up poor and Black and female in Fort Wayne, Ind."People

"A thoughtful debut. Ford writes with a flush and sophisticated pen. But the heartbeat of Ford’s firstborn is her ability to pinpoint critical moments on her self-discovering journey, and, like Baldwin and Abdurraqib, find respectable ways to perform and not drown in her suffering."USA Today

"Ashley Ford’s much-awaited memoir chronicles her complicated relationship with her father . . . expect a deeply moving, nuanced story."Buzzfeed

"A triumphant coming-of-age story . . . It's Ford's willingness to share her thoughts and observations, warts and all, that sets her memoir apart. She's a woman unafraid to face herself and share what she sees, which she does with admirable realism, humor—and especially, heart."—Yahoo!Life

"There are no neat solutions, only honest ones. In showing that, this empathetic and sharply written memoir shines."PopSugar

"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."SheThePeople

"Armed with the insight and lessons from her youth, the author emerged as a bright young college student who learned to love herself for who she was and who she has yet to become."The New York Journal Review of Books

"Her writing shines with extraordinary insight and grace, and Somebody’s Daughter is a book so many of you will want to read."—Electric Literature

"Expect to see Somebody's Daughter make waves this year."—LitHub

"This exquisite, honest memoir will resound widely."BookMarks

“Ashley C. Ford’s wrenchingly brilliant memoir is truly a classic in the making. Ford’s writing is so richly observed and so suffused with love and yearning that I kept forgetting to breathe while reading it.”—John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A memoir so clear, sharp, and smooth that the reader sees, in vivid focus, Ashley C. Ford’s complicated childhood, brilliant mind, and golden heart. The gravity and urgency of Somebody’s Daughter anchored me to my chair and slowed my heartbeat. Ashley C. Ford is a writer for the ages, and Somebody’s Daughter will be a book of the year.”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

“A masterpiece of acceptance and exploration, of growth and forgiveness, and—maybe most important of all—learning how not to forgive. Ashley C. Ford’s talent is on full display, as is her heart.”—Isaac Fitzgerald, bestselling author of How to Be a Pirate

“Ashley C. Ford went deep into the well of herself and her history and came back to the light with the book now in your hands. A piercing interrogation of who we are—to ourselves and to the people laying claim to us—Somebody’s Daughter is an opportunity for each of us to illuminate the ties that bind, entangle, and connect us to one another.”—Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight for Our Lives

“An achingly honest account of a complicated childhood. Through heartache and grief, Somebody’s Daughter is the portrait of someone determined to love deeply, to honor the person they are meant to be, and to tell their story in service of a greater truth. I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I closed it, and neither will you.”—Aminatou Sow, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Big Friendship

“A comfort to those who feel lost, Somebody’s Daughter is a powerful book that will give everybody the courage to love again.”—Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the National Book Award finalist Speak

"Gorgeous, profoundly moving, and historically important—by a terrific writer."—Min Jin Lee, author of the New York Times bestseller and National Book Award Finalist Pachinko

"A master class on how to love your family and still live with individuality and freedom. Her story is particular to her, but it's also about every single one of us. I mean, it helped me to lead myself toward breaking old familial patterns and creating new ones, truly, because the way she talks about her family and the way that she talks about the boundaries she creates is just stunning."—Abby Wambach on NPR's Morning Edition

"This is a memoir about love, live, and freedom. It's not just good—it's beautiful."—Brené Brown

"Ford creates fully three-dimensional portraits of her mother, grandmother, and other key players, using a child's-eye view to show us their failings and the calculations, negotiations, and survival tactics she developed in response to them."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A remarkable debut."—Lesley Williams, Booklist

"This remarkable, heart-wrenching story of loss, hardship, and self-acceptance astounds."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Those starved to feel something post-pandemic are sure to be jolted back to life by this brilliant memoir."—Steph Buschardt, Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


“Just remember, you can always come home.”

There it was. I expected and hated when my mother said those words. Two years before this call, I’d moved to Brooklyn from Indiana. Now I lived in Flatbush with my boyfriend, Kelly....

About the author

Ashley C. Ford

Ashley C. Ford is a writer, host, and educator who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband, poet and fiction writer Kelly Stacy, and their chocolate lab Astro Renegade Ford-Stacy. Ford is the former host of The Chronicles of Now podcast, co-host of The HBO companion podcast Lovecraft Country Radio, seasons one & three of MasterCard’s Fortune Favors The Bold, as well as the video interview series PROFILE by BuzzFeed News, and Brooklyn-based news & culture TV show, 112BK.

She was also the host of the first season of Audible's literary interview series, Authorized. She has been named among Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 in Media (2017), Brooklyn Magazine's Brooklyn 100 (2016), Time Out New York's New Yorkers of The Year (2017), and Variety’s New Power of New York (2019).

Heather Sten