American daughter A memoir

Stephanie Thornton Plymale

Book - 2021

The founder of the Heritage Home Foundation nonprofit documents her secret abuse-marked childhood in and out of foster care and what she discovered while investigating the story of her mother's own harrowing past.

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BIOGRAPHY/Plymale, Stephanie Thornton
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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Biography
Biographies
Published
New York, NY : HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 2021.
Edition
First HarperCollins edition
Language
English
Item Description
"First published in 2020 by River Grove Books."--Title page verso
Physical Description
xiv, 268 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780063054332
0063054337
Main Author
Stephanie Thornton Plymale (author)
Other Authors
Elissa Wald (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Plymale's memoir is a gut-wrenching and absorbing portrait of one family's legacy of mental illness and childhood trauma. Growing up, Plymale and her siblings mostly lived in their car, often had to forage for food, and spent time in and out of abusive foster homes. Their mother suffered from mental illness and was, at best, indifferent to their suffering and often accusatory. With the help of her husband, whom she met at 15, Plymale overcame her circumstances; starting a successful design school and raising three children in a loving household. After her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Plymale becomes determined to find out more about her past including who her father is. Scenes of her childhood are interspersed with the present day as she tries to get information, which is near impossible because of her mother's alternate personalities and confabulation. While the timeline can get confusing because of this structure, it won't matter much to folks who enjoy stories of overcoming the odds, especially in the vein of Educated and The Glass Castle.Women in Focus: The 19th in 2020 Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Plymale has written a harrowing book about the way unhealed intergenerational trauma can corrode a family. Plymale's mother, Florence, was volatile, broken, and incapable of parenting. She was an addict and suffered from periodic breakdowns that left her institutionalized or in jail. The author never knew the identity of her father; she and her siblings were periodically homeless and always impoverished, in and out of juvenile detention and foster care, where Plymale experienced sexual abuse at the hands of one of her foster parents. When Florence was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in her later years, Plymale began to interview her about both of their childhoods in an effort to understand how and why their lives unfolded as they did. In so doing, she uncovers that Florence was abducted as a child and held captive for 10 days; the details of the trauma she endured at the hands of over a dozen men will leave the reader raw. None of her attackers were held accountable and Florence later developed schizophrenia. Writer Wald helps debut author Plymale tell her story, and Florence's. VERDICT 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.—Barrie Olmstead, Lewiston P.L., ID Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The founder of the Heritage Home Foundation nonprofit documents her secret abuse-marked childhood in and out of foster care and what she discovered while investigating the story of her mother's own harrowing past.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The founder of the Heritage Home Foundation nonprofit documents her secret abuse-marked childhood in and out of foster care and what she discovered while investigating the story of her mother’s own harrowing past. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The sharp and surprising true story of a woman who finally sets out to understand her past, and the mother she had one day hoped to forget. Full of unexpected twists and unbelievable revelations, American Daughter is an immersive memoir that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.For years, Stephanie Plymale, successful CEO and interior designer, kept her past a fiercely guarded secret. Only her husband knew that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: 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, who was in and out of jails and psych wards for most of Stephanie's formative years. All this changed when a series of shocking revelations forced Stephanie to revisit her tortured past and revise the meaning of every aspect of her compromised childhood. American Daughter is the extraordinary true story of a young girl growing up on the wrong side of the American Dream. Stephanie has slept in blankets on the floor of crowded apartments, lived in the back seat of a car with her siblings, and spent decades looking over her shoulder at a mother who might just as easily hug or harm her. American Daughter is at once a moving account of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on resilience, transcendence, and ultimately, redemption.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The sharp and surprising true story of a woman who finally sets out to understand her past, and the mother she had one day hoped to forget. Full of unexpected twists and unbelievable revelations, American Daughter is an immersive memoir that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.For years, Stephanie Plymale, successful CEO and interior designer, kept her past a fiercely guarded secret. Only her husband knew that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: 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, who was in and out of jails and psych wards for most of Stephanie's formative years. All this changed when a series of shocking revelations forced Stephanie to revisit her tortured past and revise the meaning of every aspect of her compromised childhood. American Daughter is the extraordinary true story of a young girl growing up on the wrong side of the American Dream. Stephanie has slept in blankets on the floor of crowded apartments, lived in the back seat of a car with her siblings, and spent decades looking over her shoulder at a mother who might just as easily hug or harm her. American Daughter is at once a moving account of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on resilience, transcendence, and ultimately, redemption.