Somebody’s Daughter

Flatiron. Jun. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781250305978. $224. MEMOIR
Ford (host of the podcasts The Chronicles of Now and Lovecraft Country Radio) creates a tender portrait of her fractured family, which was impacted by her father’s incarceration during her childhood. Ford was raised by a single mother in Indiana, with the intermittent and jarring presence of her mother’s abusive boyfriend; she craved a protective paternal presence that never materialized. Ford recounts experiences in early adolescence that exemplify the ways in which Black girls have been sexualized at a young age; she was often left feeling preyed upon and vulnerable. She was raped by her first boyfriend at the age of 13 and kept silent about the assault, swallowing the pain and seeking sanctuary and affirmation from her teachers at school. When Ford learns that her father is himself in prison on rape charges, her conflicted feelings leave her reeling and confused. She does not excuse her father’s crime, but refuses to give up on him. When she eventually visits him, after years of avoiding contact, the reunion is poignant and heartbreaking. Her father’s pride in her and regret for missing so much of her life is palpable.
VERDICT Moving testimony about the effect of incarceration on the lives of the children and families who live in its shadow. Ford’s writing sets itself apart.
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