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American Daughter : A Memoir
by Stephanie Thornton Plymale and Elissa Wald




Overview -

Gut-wrenching and absorbing...in the vein of Educated and The Glass Castle--BOOKLIST - A story of redemption and forgiveness--NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW - Impressive...Readers will find themselves recalibrating their judgments about villains and victims--BOOKPAGE (STARRED REVIEW) - Vital--LIBRARY JOURNAL - Staggeringly candid--SHELF AWARENESS

The sharp and surprising true story of a woman who finally sets out to understand her past, and the abusive mother she hoped to forget. Full of unexpected twists and unbelievable revelations, American Daughter is an immersive experience that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

For 50 years, Stephanie Plymale kept her past a fiercely guarded secret. No one outside her immediate family would have guessed that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: a mentally ill mother who was in and out of jails and psych wards throughout Stephanie's formative years, neglect, hunger, poverty, homelessness, truancy, foster homes, a harrowing lack of medical care, and worse.

Stephanie, in turn, knew very little about the past of her mother, from whom she remained estranged during most of her adult life. All this changed with a phone call that set a journey of discovery in motion, leading to a series of shocking revelations that forced Stephanie to revise the meaning of almost every aspect of her very compromised childhood.

American Daughter is at once the deeply moving account of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on resilience, transcendence, and ultimately, redemption.

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Overview

Gut-wrenching and absorbing...in the vein of Educated and The Glass Castle--BOOKLIST - A story of redemption and forgiveness--NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW - Impressive...Readers will find themselves recalibrating their judgments about villains and victims--BOOKPAGE (STARRED REVIEW) - Vital--LIBRARY JOURNAL - Staggeringly candid--SHELF AWARENESS

The sharp and surprising true story of a woman who finally sets out to understand her past, and the abusive mother she hoped to forget. Full of unexpected twists and unbelievable revelations, American Daughter is an immersive experience that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

For 50 years, Stephanie Plymale kept her past a fiercely guarded secret. No one outside her immediate family would have guessed that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: a mentally ill mother who was in and out of jails and psych wards throughout Stephanie's formative years, neglect, hunger, poverty, homelessness, truancy, foster homes, a harrowing lack of medical care, and worse.

Stephanie, in turn, knew very little about the past of her mother, from whom she remained estranged during most of her adult life. All this changed with a phone call that set a journey of discovery in motion, leading to a series of shocking revelations that forced Stephanie to revise the meaning of almost every aspect of her very compromised childhood.

American Daughter is at once the deeply moving account of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on resilience, transcendence, and ultimately, redemption.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780063054332
  • ISBN-10: 0063054337
  • Publisher: HarperOne
  • Publish Date: January 2021
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

American Daughter

The memoir genre is flush with inspiring stories about children who overcame horrific abuse to become healthy, functioning adults. If Stephanie Thornton Plymale’s American Daughter were merely that type of memoir, it would still be impressive. Plymale spent her childhood fending for herself as one of five kids raised by a mentally ill and drug-addicted mother. At times, the children slept in a car and scavenged for their own food; other times they were wards of the state.

However, the memoir Plymale has written supersedes the journey of perseverance with an investigation into her family’s fascinating but tragic past. When Plymale’s mother announced that she was dying of lung cancer, the author decided to learn more about her family history while she still could. For starters, she had no idea who her father was. Her mom often claimed that she was related to George Washington—which everyone dismissed as either a delusion or an outright lie. And when ill, her mom had often taken on alternate personalities, including a sad 11-year-old girl who was always afraid of getting pregnant. What, Plymale had long wondered, was that really about?

The family history that Plymale discovers is wilder than anyone could have guessed. Readers will find themselves recalibrating their judgments about villains and victims and questioning how one family could fall so far down through the cracks. The title American Daughter is a reference both to the author’s determination to survive and succeed and to America’s failing social systems, like mental healthcare, child protective services and the justice system.

Tough topics like sexual abuse, kidnapping and miscarriage make this a heavy read at times. But for anyone looking for a moving tale of finding a way to give the love we don’t receive, American Daughter will resonate.

 

BAM Customer Reviews