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Publisher's Summary

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 minute.

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.

©2021 Stephanie Thornton Plymale (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about American Daughter

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  • Overall
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Powerful Memoir

A powerfully narrated memoir !
The author survived a deeply traumatic childhood. Abandoned by her mentally ill mother multiple times and in different ways, repeatedly separated from her family, frightened, hungry and abused. With so much against her, you might think there was no hope. But hers is not the story about a victim. Rather, it is about what she envisioned for her future. For a family, a career, and for the little girl she never got to be. Stephanie had a long road ahead from her days in and out of foster care, being shuffled to neighbor’s homes, and detention centers while her mother was in jail, a psychiatric ward, or otherwise unable to take care of her six children. I was amazed that she was able to still love her mother and care for her in her dying days.
AMERICAN DAUGHTER is about determination, compassion, and forgiveness.

4 people found this helpful

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Mixed Feelings:/

I had Mixed feelings about this book because at times it was interesting but then the author went into too much detail about things that were of little importance to the story in my opinion. She was also in a constant pity-party for herself, yet she seemed to expect the readers to think that she was sympathetic for her mother due to the mental health disorders that she suffered from…

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing memoir

If you read “Glass Castle” and “Educated”, this book will astound with layers upon layers of revelations. I came away with the big question of how can the children of mentally ill parents/ addicts be helped? Unless a benevolent relative steps in, these poor innocents often lead a childhood of abuse, neglect and molestation. Very few are able to rise above their circumstances as told here. Gripping story.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Done!

This was a melancholy, but brilliantly written true story of a woman’s journey through abuse, neglect, and trauma to find her peace and personal triumph. This one is a must!

1 person found this helpful

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mostly enthralling

the story was great and kept me interested, all the way until the last couple of chapters. she seems to discuss some things wayyy too much in detail. for example, there's just about 2 entire chapters about her family's history all the way back to George Washington and her ancestors roles in the war, etc. I almost fell asleep and became disinterested. but most of the book was fantastic.

1 person found this helpful

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A Must Read for the Human Race

I could not put this book down. I cried, I smiled, and I empathized with the author throughout. Portions of her story reminded me of my family and portions were so unimaginable that I couldn’t imagine how she and/or her mother survived physically and emotionally. Every social worker, teacher, law enforcement officer…human being should read this story…Stephanie’s story.

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Not your typical story of hardship

This book was extremely satisfying in the way it shared the horror of this girls upbringing meshed with her achievements at obtaining peace. It teetered between a version of herself about to give in to the trauma with the version that can overcome, with success.

The one thing I think readers should do while listening to this book is their own research on the historical incident that is discovered in this book. It will reveal truths about powerful political families of today that are shameful and may give the reader pause in their own political beliefs.

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Amazing story, beautifully written

What a tale of resilience, of sadness without a tinge of anger or pity. The ending was one of the best I’ve read or listened to in a long time.

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Deep & Incredible

This is a story that will impact you and stay with you. It is deep & painful & redemptive. There are so many layers uncovered in the story, an incredible reminder of the fragility and strength in humanity. I highly recommend.

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Could Not Stop Listening

Wow! The narrator was perfect and the book was one I could not put down ( or stop listening to).