It took a good 50 pages before I got into this tale.
“Somebody’s Daughter” by Ashley C. Ford is an evocative story, no doubt. But in her life memoir of what happens to her and the reckoning with her father, I found the pace fairly slow and it left me with a few questions.
Ford’s upbringing is nothing but complicated. Her mother was abusive with her father in prison. And it wasn’t until we learn what Ashley’s father did to wind up in prison — he raped another woman — that we see Ashley’s forced evolution as a person.
The tone of the book is completely accessible. I enjoy the writing and the way she takes us with her through her relationship with her later gay boyfriend, her experience living in college and ultimately the complicated relationship with her mother.
I find the portion where she meets her father to be the most interesting part of the story and frankly the most difficult. This is the point where she has to decide what to do about her past. Will she let it eat her alive or will she find a way to move forward?
Her past makes this a particularly hard quandary. She is a victim of sexual assault herself, so having to figure out what to do when her father commits that hurt onto another soul is gut wrenching in and of itself. What bothered me is the book barely explored this aspect, which I think is hard to ignore with such a dichotomy.
I especially wonder how she remembered the conversations she had with various other people in the book, especially in her childhood. The first few dozen pages were littered with dialogue from her early years, as soon as she was 3 and 4 years old. I was left pondering how anyone remembers something so clearly. Personally, I can barely remember what I had for lunch last week, much less a conversation I had with my mother before I went to kindergarten.
However, I do think trauma and abuse have a way of integrating pathways in our brains. So to an extent, I also understand how she might remember some of the most dramatic points in her life thus far.
I found it a solid start as a breakout nonfiction. But there were some narrative threads that didn’t always tie together that I desperately wanted to as we went from chapter to chapter.
For me, this would have been a good library book pick — one you don’t regret reading but am not sure if you will ever pick it up again on your shelf.
Emily West is a journalist living in Franklin.