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 journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.
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 ... Ford’s brilliance as a writer, her superpower, is a portrayal of her mother — who remains unnamed — that is both damning and sympathetic, one that renders this complicated older Black woman’s full humanity ... Ford powerfully captures the complicated mix of meanness, frustration and obsessive mothering familiar to so many Black daughters ... Ford found her voice as a writer, and that helped her see that she’s not just somebody’s daughter: She’s somebody.
Somebody’s Daughter is smoothly written and marked by moments of alert complexity. Ford borrows from her literary foremother Zora Neale Hurston — especially Hurston’s juxtaposition of happiness to intimacy with the sun ... Somebody’s Daughter is 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.
... heart-wrenching ... painfully and poignantly shows us that life goes on, even when a parent is not there ... Ford pieces together her childhood through intimate storytelling. You see the world through a child’s eyes and feel the pain that a child feels. Sometimes her story makes you laugh out loud; sometimes it makes you weep. This is a soul-stirring tale of a child contending with 'big feelings' and, later, a teenager becoming a woman ... The process of becoming and self-discovery is just as harrowing and cruel as it is beautiful and full of joy and wonder. There are moments when you wince and wish you could protect young Ashley from an unkind world; reassure her that she is beautiful, special and innocent; and keep her safe from the brutal experiences of physical and sexual violence ... There is a universality in the themes that Somebody’s Daughter presents that many readers will recognize and understand, but at its core, this is a story about the complexity and vulnerability in Black women’s lives, told firsthand by a Black woman. This is 'Black Girl Magic' at its very finest and its most unapologetic. Ford helps to fill a gap in the literature on African American women’s lives ... 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.