Cover Image: The American Daughters

The American Daughters

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Member Reviews

Ady and Sanite, her mother, were sold to John du Marche, a New Orleans businessman, to work in his city townhouse when Ady was seven. Her mother raised her with stories of the family’s origins and they were inseparable. An escape and their re-capture brought them to du Marche’s plantation, where Sanite died of a fever when it swept through the property. Taken back to New Orleans, Ady was lost without Sanite. After her return to the city, however, her life changed. The education of slaves was outlawed, but du Marche provided an instructor to educate her. She first sees Lenore, a free Black woman, when she assists du Marche on one of his trips in the city. Lenore is the owner of the Mockingbird Inn. She takes Ady under her wing and offers her part time work. Without du Marche’s permission she accepts, hoping to someday save enough money to purchase her freedom. Lenore also introduces her to The Daughters, a society of spies whose aim is to undermine the Confederacy and its’ institution of slavery. This is a sisterhood that offers a hope for the futur.e.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s Ady is intelligent and brave, as she often speaks her mind and stands by her mother. The cruelty of the slave hunters and owners and the conditions at the plantation are heartbreaking. Ruffin’s story is well written and highly recommended for fans of American historical fiction. I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House - One World for providing this book for my review.

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3.5 stars. Thank you to Net Galley and Random House One World for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. This story starts in New Orleans centered around Ady, an enslaved girl, who is curious and bright and is with her mother, Sanite. They are inseparable and Ady's world is her mother., filled with the wonders of the world and stories of family even though they deal with the horrors of slavery, physical and emotional But, tragedy happens and they are separated. Ady is lost without her mother but she finds the Mockingbird Inn and meets Lenore who introduces her to the The Daughters and helps her to find her way and bring hope back into her life. This group of Black women are spies fighting to end slavery.

Recently, I've read several historical novels about different facets of slavery around the same time period. Unfortunately, this one was the least compelling and I didn't connect with any of the characters. Yet, there were elements I did enjoy. The story was well written and I gave it four stars instead of three due to the epilogue which made me question and rethink the story, and come back to the idea when thinking about what I read anywhere.. I was also curious if the The Daughters were a real organization that we never learned about in history class.

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This book has so many avenues for discussion and deeper pondering. At it’s most basic it is a historical fiction/ coming of age story. Set in antebellum times 12-year old Ady and her mother Sanite are together as slaves to a „master“ with a townhouse in New Orleans and a „slave labor camp called a plantation“. Sanite teaches Ady to stay her own person at the core and to be resilient. Life is hard and when events make it even more unbearable they try to escape and Ady finally learns her family‘s story. They are recaptured and through subsequent events Ady ends up alone as a house slave in New Orleans, she is educated and has some agency in how she spends her time especially when the „master“ is not in town. As readers we get to discover many layers of life in New Orleans at the time and the author’s love for his diverse city shines through. Ady hooks up with The American Daughters who try to sabotage slave owners and the confederate army by a tactic of needle pricks. This offers another big theme in this book the strong women Ady is surrounded by all her life at different intersections. Language and the use of language is another big theme, from Ady (Adebimpe), called Antoinette and Hummingbird by different people for different reasons, to the „master“ who is not called „master“ unless a point is made but wants to be called „father“.
History and how it is told and passed through generations is another big through line - with research analysis of Ady‘s diary popping up in different parts of the story trying to parse out which parts are original and which parts were added later.
I feel this review is quite incomplete as this is a book I will keep thinking about !

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Gripping historical fiction that offers a glimpse of a little-known slice of history, draws a detailed portrait of New Orleans in the mid-1800s, and creates detailed backstories for its characters. The book is certainly hard to read in that the lives of Ady and Sarite are painful and marked by the violence done to them but I appreciated that the author did not shy away from the horrors of enslavement in setting up the story.

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I enjoyed the main narrative of this novel, but what really made it a 5 star read for me was the epilogue! It reminded me so much of the epilogue of my favorite novel (The Handmaid's Tale) in the way it examined the primary text and slight hint of doubt/unreliable narrator. Fantastic story telling!

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Beautiful coming of age, historical fiction. The plot did not move quickly but was orchestrated beautifully. I loved the premise and the setting. Pre Civil War in New Orleans. Very character-driven. Masterfully executed. Will be recommending this one to our patrons.

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This was an interesting historical fiction book. I enjoyed the characters and the writing in the book. Unfortunately for me, the book moved way too slow and I was not invested by the end. It’s a very slow moving story and one that I found to be a bit dull.

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“Freedom meant precisely this: the ability to use one’s legs to carry oneself where one chose.”

The American Daughters is a heartfelt and gripping historical fiction novel about a spirited young girl who joins a sisterhood of Black women working together to undermine the Confederates. mother and daughter Sanite and Ady who are enslaved to a businessman in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The American Daughters are representative of a group that tried in various covert ways to undermine and destroy the sordid slavery business. When Ady and Sanite are separated, Ady is lost after her separation from her mother, she meets a freedwoman, Lenore, who introduces her to the secret circle of spies whose primary goal is to undermine the Confederates. It's about hope, strength and bravery

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Strong women and their fight for freedom is the underlying message in this book. This is the first time I've read a book by this author, Maurice Carlos Ruffin and for the majority of the book, it is a compelling story, one which I recommend. But the repeated phrasing that the plantation was a prison slave camp unnerved me and maybe that was his intent. The author brings out the horror of slavery in his story. You fall in love with Ady and her mother Sadie and their quest to live and to be free. These women and others survive and it is a riveting read on how they live and cope with slavery. The other criticism I have is the thread of lesbianism in the book. It was not very well developed and not believable to me in this time period. On the whole, a very interesting read in the civil war era.

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This was an important reminder of the bravery, heartbreak enslaved and free Black women went through to fight for their rights to be treated as humans and recognized for the powerful women they were.

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This novel had very little to do with the synopsis, and more about Ady. I wanted more insight into the American Daughters, the free black creoles and the businesses. This needed to focal point, and less on Ady's childhood. I also felt as if language and some historical facts didn't align with history terms of the times.

Thank you, Random House Publishing Group - Random House | One World

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The American Daughters
By Maurice Carlos Ruffin

This story takes place in the deep south – most notably New Orleans – in pre-Civil War day. This was the time of slavery and the story here is about a polyglot society: plantation owners, poor illiterate whites, black slaves, and free blacks.

Ady and her mother Sanite are slaves – but also strong black women. This is kind of a coming of age story for Ady when she is separated from her mother. She meets up with a free black woman named Lenore and joins the Daughters, a clandestine organization working for freedom.

Mr. Ruffin has written an interesting story. Though not always historically plausible, it gives the reader a real feel for what the time, the place, and the people were like. I would recommend the book to those who enjoy learning through historical fiction.

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I received an advanced copy of The American Daughters from the publisher Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: Ady, is a curious and sharp-witted girl who is enslaved with her mother Sanite, a tough fierce woman, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The two are inseparable until they are…as Ady grows up in the absence of her mother she forms a connection with Lenore, a free Black woman, and the two grow close and Ady learns about the clandestine society of spies called The Daughters, which she rapidly becomes involved in.

What I Loved: This was a solid story and I think it was an important one to be told. The plot was intriguing and the novel was fairly fast paced. I also really liked the characters of Ady and Sanite and found them really well developed. I also really liked how this book made very clear that the myth of the kind plantation owner was exactly that, a myth. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and would recommend it. There’s also a small romantic plot that I did enjoy.

What I Didn’t Like: The plotting was off. There were some plotlines that I found to be put at an odd time and the resolutions seemed a bit unbelievable. I also found that the book copy of the plot wasn’t reflective as The Daughters is not really even brought up till past 50% so if you’re reading this for the spying, it’s a rather small part of the novel. I also didn’tt entirely find the present timeline to be useful.

Who Should Read It: People who loved novels like Yellow Wife or the Underground Railroad. People who are looking for a strong female led historical fiction.

Summary: The story of an enslaved girl who joins a spy network to fight for a future for true freedom.

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The book is good.. I wasn't in the mood for a historical, but I wanted to make sure this book got a read and review! I'll give this another shot when I'm in the mood for a lush, historical novel.

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This compelling story follows a young woman, Ady, who was enslaved by John du Marche when the Louisiana French plantation system was at its height. While it is about an underground resistance movement against the Confederacy, it first lays some groundwork. As Ady’s and her mother Sanite’s experiences unfold early in the book, their heritage as Maroons is revealed as is the reprehensible and abusive nature of Antebellum enslavers such as du Marche. The examples of du Marche’s depraved behavior remind readers how heinous the plantation system was and why resistance fighters would risk their lives to destroy it.

The Maroons are a group of formerly enslaved men and women who escaped Caribbean plantation systems through resistance, evasion, and unrelenting determination. Ady will need to draw on this heritage if she is to become a resistance fighter with the American Daughters and undertake the grave risks this role entails. By doing so, she will follow in the footsteps of those who went before her to fight for a different future.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

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This book didn't work very well for me. At one point I wanted to stop reading, but I ended up pushing though it. Many parts felt repetitive and unrealistic. It also didn't give enough information about the other timeline. Sadly this one just wasn't for me.

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3.5 *s

"One day, you'll be free, and you can't be forgetting who you really is."

The American Daughters offers readers a glimpse into the lives of an enslaved mother-daughter duo under the rule of a cruel businessman in the French Quarter of New Orleans. When Ady is separated from her mother, Sanite, she finds herself hopeless and desperate. Upon finding the Mockingbird Inn, Ady meets Lenore, a free black woman. They become fast friends and Lenore invites Ady to join a society of spies called The Daughters. With Lenore's help and strength, Ady begins to imagine a new future for herself. One which allows for the possibility of freedom for herself.

Witnessing Ady's, Sanite's, and Lenore's determination towards freedom was a privilege. Their battle against racist tyrants was enthralling. The character development was well-executed, making it feel like you had personally encountered each of the characters. However, I found the introduction of The Daughters late in the book disappointing as I didn't get enough time with each of them. The unique personalities of each character added depth to the group dynamic, making them truly memorable. However, I found the overall pace of the writing to be slow. While the topic and information were fascinating, I sometimes struggled to engage with the book.

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Thank you for the galley of this historical fiction novel. For me, this was tough to connect with and it lacked the punch I think the story could have had. Too much time spent on Ady's youth, a slow-moving plot and stilted dialogue made it difficult for me. The Daughters don't make an appearance until quite late in the novel, and based on the title I was expecting more about them. So, I was disappointed overall. I do think the topic has a lot of value and if we'd met the Daughters earlier and spent less time on Ady's coming of age, it would have worked better.

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I wanted to like it but it was slow, confusing, a bit all over the place. I just had trouble staying with the story and really caring about the characters.

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*Thank you so much to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the chance to review an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. *

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