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Fawna Asfaw
Sober Daughter
Fawna Asfaw, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

An empowering account of a lost daughter’s fight for her identity and sobriety—and her mission to help others. The only child of a doting Ethiopian father and a strong-willed African American mother, Fawna Asfaw felt her life shatter when she lost both her parents to illness. As grief pulled her into a downward spiral of addiction and shame, Fawna had to learn to harness her power and rebuild her life with a new perspective that changed everything.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Asfaw openly describes her life experiences, focusing on her idyllic childhood to the harrowing deaths of her parents to grappling with her own alcoholism and time in rehab. Her road from trauma and addiction to recovery and success is truthful and vivid. The author's honesty and willingness to focus on not only the realities but the emotions of each moment make this memoir pack quite an emotional punch.

Prose: Asfaw writes in direct and conversational prose. While the dialogue and expression of emotions are strong, the descriptive parts aren't as prevalent, which makes the prose feel uneven in certain passages.

Originality: The author bravely conveys both the highs and extreme lows of her journey. Sober Daughter is a powerful and insightful memoir that might help others take control of their own lives and recovery.

Character/Execution: Asfaw doesn't hesitate to share her darkest moments. She does a commendable job of relaying the challenges and nuances of addiction. Her parents, however, may benefit from a degree of additional characterization. 

Date Submitted: October 04, 2022

Recovery coach Asfaw debuts with a heartbreaking account of her struggle with alcohol addiction after the deaths of her parents. Asfaw, the only child of loving if domineering parents, learned at a young age, “I was supposed to put ‘family and humility first.’ ” Her “insulated and codependent” home unraveled after her father became sick with leukemia and her mother with diabetes. As her friends prepared for college, Asfaw became her parents’ caretaker and bottled up her pain: “Avoidance and denial had served me quite well.” The deaths of her parents plunged her into a depression driven by feelings of guilt that she had failed them, causing her to turn to alcohol and withdraw from the world. After a doctor told Asfaw she had two weeks to live if she didn’t stop drinking, her friends enrolled her in a recovery program and then took her to an extended-care facility where she made the first arduous steps toward sobriety and rebuilding her life. The author’s analysis of how the “family trait of denial” wreaked havoc on her powerfully captures the way familial scars get passed down from generation to generation. Not for the faint of heart, this warts-and-all portrait of addiction is worth checking out. (Self-published)