Ashley C. Ford’s debut memoir, SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER is a moving portrait of a girl longing for a relationship with a father who is incarcerated. Ashley grew up not knowing the crime for which her father was imprisoned, but that didn’t stop her from imagining him as the father of her dreams.
Raised by a single mother who was volatile and unpredictable, Ashley looked to her father’s letters for encouragement and love.
“Letter upon letter filled with “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “Smile,” “You’re beautiful,” “You’re so smart,” and a host of other things every young girl wants to hear from her dad.”
There were no other reliable father figures in Ashley’s life. The closest she would come to fatherly love and guidance would be through her dad’s letters from prison. Her mother had numerous boyfriends and Ashley had several half-siblings, but none of those men were loving or kind to Ashley and they were often absent, leaving her mother to raise her children alone.
Ashley’s grandmother was the most reliable adult in her life and in fact, she moved in with her grandmother for a time when her mother suffered the loss of an infant. She felt loved by her grandmother, and they enjoyed spending time together, but after a year away, Ashley’s mother wanted her to return home.
In adolescence, as her body began to change, Ashley became uncomfortable with the looks of older men. She hooked up with a boy that her mother disliked, who professed his love for her too soon and too enthusiastically, and when she ended the relationship, he raped her. For years, she did not tell anyone, but it left her feeling unworthy and unloved.
The question that preoccupied her the most was what her father would think of her when she met him in person. When she finally visited him in prison, he did not disappoint. She’d started writing about her family, her mother, her grandmother, and her father. It took courage to look at her family honestly, but she continued to write her truth. As she visited her father in prison, she told him about her writing, concerned that it would fracture their fragile relationship. But his response was genuine and encouraging.
“When you sent me one of your stories, I thought, damn. I must be the luckiest fool in the world. I got me a daughter who’s smart, beautiful, and she’s a writer. A real one. A good one. I’m so proud of you, Ashley.”
SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER is a heartbreaking story about a girl growing up in poverty, famished for love and acceptance, searching for an identity outside of the broken family she’d grown up in. But rather than remaining a victim, Ashley C. Ford becomes the heroine of her story, and the only one she needed to save her, was herself.
I recommend SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER for fans of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls and The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. Read all my reviews and listen to my author interviews on www.superiorreads.blog.