"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.
About the Author
Stephanie Thornton Plymale is the CEO of Heritage School of Interior Design and the founder of the Heritage Home Foundation, a nonprofit serving families transitioning from homelessness. She lives with her husband and three children in Portland, Oregon.
"[Plymale's] lineage, which she traces back to the Revolutionary War, represents a sort of inverse American dream...Her people become less respectable through the generations until the line arrives at Plymale herself, whose own life marks the point where the needle begins to move in a positive direction once again. It's a story of redemption and forgiveness."
— Mary Beth Keane, New York Times Book Review
"Impressive...Moving...Readers will find themselves recalibrating their judgments about villains and victims and questioning how one family could fall so far down through the cracks... American Daughter will resonate"
— BookPage (starred review)
"a gut-wrenching and absorbing portrait of one family’s legacy of mental illness and childhood trauma."
“In this sharp, heartrending work, Plymale reconciles with the truth of her mother’s life, finding forgiveness, hope, and even pride. Her testimony, while painful to read, is vital.”
— Library Journal
“[A] poignant and often distressing memoir....The writing is shatteringly candid but never overwrought, the story a stark reminder that 'the most difficult people are often suffering in ways we can't fathom.'"
— Shelf Awareness