Idea: The author's story is captivating, and readily draws the reader into the circumstances of Leslie's heartbreaking and tumultuous childhood.
Prose: This memoir is descriptive and poetic without overwhelming the pacing of the story.
Originality: When I Was Her Daughter: A Memoir is the story of many children who experience homelessness and the foster care system in America, but the author's story is personal and uniquely told.
Character/Execution: The narrator's voice is immersive and distinct, reading like a diary. The voice of 10-year-old Leslie is authentic and reflects the chaotic childhood she endures. The author's reflections on her complex relationship with her mother, and on her mother's condition, are moving.
Date Submitted: January 10, 2022
Painful family dynamics make up the core of this story: William readily obeys his mother, but little Leslie is torn between obedience, which she knows might prove lethal, and rebellion, which she thinks of as a sign of disloyalty and lack of love for her mother. With skill and power, Ferguson portrays several heart-rending choices she was forced to make as a young child, including electing to stay behind at her aunt’s home for safety instead of accompanying her mother, in a desperate attempt to stop her family’s deterioration.
Ferguson tells this story in chronological order, starting with events from age six to the present with sensitivity and an eye for arresting detail. Especially striking here is her success at sketching an affecting and persuasive portrait of her mother, that comes across as elegant, intelligent, warm, and loving even through the fog of her illness. The narrative is simple and honest, avoiding sentimentality, and readers will easily relate to Ferguson’s descriptions of her fractured childhood–and find themselves wondering at the complexities of mother-child bonding. This multilayered and nuanced memoir is a stunning account of family love and sacrifice.
Takeaway: A moving, well-written memoir of childhood trauma and a mother’s schizophrenia.
Great for fans of: Marlayna Glynn’s Overlay, Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle .
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
I am thrilled to announce that When I Was Her Daughter is the first-place winner of the Firebird Book Awards in three categories: Coming of Age, Psychiatry/Psychology, and Parenting & Family. Thank you to Pat Rullo and the judges, and congratulations to all of the winners!
I'm happy to announce that When I Was Her Daughter is a category winner of the Memoir Prize for Books in the category of RESILIENCE!
Thank you to the judges and congrats to all the winners!