Cover Image: The American Daughters

The American Daughters

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Member Reviews

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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Gritty and gripping! I read Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s The American Daughters in one sitting. This coming of age story of an enslaved girl is as emotional and harrowing as it is interesting. Whether in a “slave labor camp, also known as a plantation” or the city of New Orleans, Ruffin’s sense of place is strong. And Ady’s is a vibrant, albeit literally tortured, character.

I would have liked to have learned more about the group of women known as “The American Daughters,” from which the title is derived.

Many thanks to NetGalley and to One World (Random House) for a complimentary ARC. Opinions are my own.

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Ady and her mother, Sanite, are enslaved women living in pre-Civil War era New Orleans. When the two of them are separated, Ady is lost and heartbroken until meeting Lenore, a woman who invites her into a society of spies called The Daughters.

This is a story of hope, courage, and fighting for a better future. Beloved author Maurice Carlos Ruffin does not disappoint with another novel that brings New Orleans to life. Fans of Ruffin and historical fiction will love this. Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a new to me author, but I will definitely be looking for more of his works. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story especially because it blends fact and fiction, which I love. I would recommend this to anybody who loves to read historical fiction. I can’t wait to see what more this author will bring us.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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I finished this book a week or so ago and I am still thinking and somewhat haunted by it. Harsh realities of New Orleans slavery never goes away nor it should. History needs to be told so that is it not repeated. Two strong women, a mother/daughter duo, reenforces the brutality. Yes, they are part of American history and as much the daughters of this country as anyone else.

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A coming of age story revolving around a slave - Ady - and her mother sold to a man in New Orleans. This one is slow moving. There are many glimpses into the life of a slaves and the horrors that are attached to that in pre Civil War era. I especially struggled with the ending, but that could be because I just didn’t care at that point. Thanks to NetGalley for the read.

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Ady has never known a different life than that of a slave in Louisiana. She and her mother work on a plantation for a man who is unafraid to take everything from them. But her mother remembers freedom, and it won’t be long before she and Ady attempt to take matters into their own hands.

There were many issues with the technicalities of this book. After Ady was given a slave name, she was generally referred to as "Ady or Antoinette" for the first part of the book, even when she spoke. There were many other instances of this type of repetition. Another example includes "slave labor camps also called plantations," the entire phrase used almost every time a slave labor camp was mentioned. This quickly became cumbersome. On top of these clunky things, there were many instances of awkward phrasing, incorrect punctuation, etc. There was also supposed to be a modern story framing the main narrative, but it wasn’t given enough page time or depth to be compelling (just a very short prologue with minimal explanation and some bits scattered throughout the main narrative). This work would benefit from some thorough editing.

There were also many instances of things that just didn’t make sense historically. A few examples: runaway slaves were typically harshly punished when caught, often to the point of death; the slave owner who was portrayed as hating anything that might benefit a Black person decided to hire a governess for a slave and treat her like a daughter; the slave owner’s son knew of a slave’s involvement with abolitionists and other than threatening the slave, nothing happened. These are just a few examples off the top of my head of things that weren’t realistic and detracted from the plot and setting.

While the book blurb and title suggests that the majority of the book will be about the spy group, it isn't until almost two-thirds of the way through that this aspect comes into play. Instead, this work is more of a coming-of-age. I wouldn’t have minded this if I’d been expecting it, but instead it was a little disappointing. The characters also fell flat and were lacking depth and development, making it impossible to connect with them emotionally despite the emotional themes in the book.

If you’re interested in a historical fiction about a young woman who was a slave in the southern U.S., you might enjoy this one. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for allowing me to read this work. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The synopsis of The American Daughters sounded incredibly promising to me - and the second half of the book lived up to it! However, it took until nearly 50% into the book to even be introduced to the spy network. I still enjoyed the first half learning about Ady and Sanite’s life, but I was hoping for more of the society of spies - the end of the book wraps very quickly and definitely left me wanting more.

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The American Daughters by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the story of slavery as told through the life of one person: Antoinette Marianne du Marche, Ady as a shorting of the name her mother gave her. She is apparently an ancestor of the author, so giving the story that special touch. The story of slavery is pretty much the same whenever one read it, so we won’t linger. The special part is what happened after slavery, when she had the opportunity to live for herself.

Ady was a canny little girl and grew to be a clever adult. She could “read the room,” usually. She and her mother were sold together, her father, long gone. It was never made clear if he was captured at the same time they were and was a slave, or whether he had escaped. She learned who to trust and when to trust. It was a moving story. I enjoyed reading it, despite being aghast at her life. She was a survivor. Thanks Ruffin for sharing.

I was invited to read The American Daughters by Random House Publishing-One World. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #RandomHousePublishingOneWorld #MauriceCarlosRuffin #TheAmerican Daughters

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Maurice Carlos Ruffin does not miss, and this might be his very best. This was gripping, powerful, sad, and can really change a reader in many ways. This will be a favorite of the year for me.

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It frankly grieves me to write this review of a book that I was so excited to receive an early reading of. Yesterday I vowed to finally finish it and today I turned the last page still scratching my head about what it was about. In deed I found myself constantly rereading sentences and questioning “ Is it a history of slavery in pre Civil War New Orleans?” “Is it a love story?” or “Is it the story of a group of brave women saboteurs?”.Unfortunately, the narrative constantly wanders off on other tangents disrupting the story for the reader. I actually own an earlier book of short stories by this author that I will read to see if his oeuvre at this time is in the short form and the long narrative simply is in need of perfecting.

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Enslaved Ady is separated from her mother during the Civil War. Alone, she finds herself joining with a group of black women dedicated to resisting the Confederacy in war torn New Orleans. Well written and worth the read.

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Did Not Finish @20%

This was just so boring, so confusing and then so frustrating when I realized that this book was not actually ABOUT The Daughters and was just about Ady's life and then just a little bit about the brave group of women who took on the Confederacy [not nearly enough I think to warrant the title]. I was disappointed to find this out and am still disappointed when I realized that I just could not wade through the confusing writing [I am sure Ady is a great character, but the writing of her and her life and the back and forth and the multiple names etc etc], that was also just so boring...I feel that the title and blurb was very misleading.

I was invited to read/review this book by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group - Random House/One World and I thank them, NetGalley and the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed the story of Ady and how she found her voice and her calling. I wanted more about the spy group and how they operated and what chaos they caused. How they affected the war.

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Important details about The American Daughters

Pace: Medium. It goes to a fast pace at the end of the book (during certain events) but returns to medium after those events are over.

POV: 3rd person (Ady), 2nd person (excerpts of Ady’s journal), and 1st person (passages of people interviewed over the years about Ady’s journal).

Trigger Warnings: The American Daughters contains themes that include slavery, racism, racial slurs, rape, sexual violence, violence, murder, colourism, classism, sexism & misogyny, white supremacy, dissociation & dissociative episodes, involuntary pregnancy, and war themes.

Language: There is moderate swearing in The American Daughters. There is also language used that might offend some people.

Sexual Content: There is minor consensual sexual content in The American Daughters. The nonconsensual content is alluded to.

Setting: The American Daughters is set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

My Review

The main storyline of The American Daughters centers around Ady. It is a well-written storyline that does make it uncomfortable to read. The author doesn’t try to sugarcoat or explain away what happened to slaves. I guarantee this content will make people uncomfortable, but it needs to be read.

I liked Ady. I wasn’t sure if I liked that she wanted to join The Daughters (with her owner being one of the prominent people they were gunning for), but once she did join, she was invaluable. The most valuable thing about her was that she could read and write (English and French). Her owner decided to pass her off as his daughter and educated her. Those skills gave information to The Daughters to do what they saw fit.

Besides the main storyline (which intrigued me), I also enjoyed the excerpts the author included. The author was able to fill in some blanks when it came to Ady and her life after the Civil War while also keeping it a mystery.

There is also a thread of romance intertwined in the book. I did think that Ady met her soulmate in this person. I was also sure that this person didn’t feel the same way. It wasn’t until almost the end of the book that the author discussed that.

The Civil War also takes up a considerable chunk of the book. The author doesn’t get into detail about the battles, but he does go into detail about how the city prepped for war and its effect on New Orleans. Even when the war came to New Orleans, the author kept it to a few paragraphs at the book’s end. Of course, there were descriptions of what Ady and The Daughters did to help the Union army. The chains were mainly mentioned (and yes, it is true).

I did enjoy reading about The Daughters and their work. While fictional, I have no issue imagining something similar existed. In a city where free blacks and slaves coexisted, I find it hard not to believe that a spy ring made up of free black women and slaves existed. The Daughters did a lot of damage, but they also took hits to their numbers. Towards the end of the war, only a few were left (including Ady), which led to what happened at her owner’s house (which was poetic justice in my eyes).

The ending kept me from giving this book a 5-star review (if you can make sense of my rambling above). I was happy with how Ady’s storyline ended. But then the author posted an interview with a twist I should have seen coming. This twist was so shocking, but it made sense. I was mad that I didn’t see it coming.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Random House, One World, NetGalley, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin for allowing me to read and review this ARC of The American Daughters. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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