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.
Somebody’s Daughter is an apt title for Ford’s memoir, especially since she spends most of her young life hoping to be more than a daughter. The narrative details her attempts to claim that independent identity, but the path is not straightforward ... The narrative rings truest when Ford turns inward to articulate her feelings. Rather than reduce these painful memories to a reflective interpretation, Ford lifts the language into a shimmering lyric register that is polyphonic. Ford’s enduring ability to love also catapults the story. Even after learning the terrible truth of her father’s conviction, she continues to fiercely believe in him. Her understanding that the ones we love are imperfect crafts a shining star for the reader to follow.