Cover Image: The American Daughters

The American Daughters

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley and Random House for sharing this ARC. I loved this book. It’s a well-written historical fiction novel, set in pre Civil War New Orleans, centered on the life of one slave. And I enjoyed it at that level, the plot carrying me along. But the ending of the book took it to a different level, one I’m still mulling over. But I liked it a lot. Highly recommended for historical fiction fans.

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There were so many aspects of this novel I really enjoyed. As a reader of a lot of historical fiction, I love when stories have things that separate them from the norm. The Daughters' actions did this for me. I loved all the references to their work to spite the confederacy, and even the conversations about who to trust and who not to trust. What I didn't love about this story was the speed at which it progressed. I think I had a different expectation; one in which the bulk of the story is spent on the Daughters. It really focused so much on Ady's childhood and I felt it was more a character-driven novel than a plot-driven novel (the latter of which I enjoy more). Overall, I would definitely recommend this to those that enjoy historical fiction, as well as those that enjoy deep character development within a story.

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I do not say this lightly. Five stars. A story within a story. Seamless writing and hardly any fat. This could have been a more painful read but Ruffin does a great and intentional job of not being gratuitous. I was on the edge of my seat in some scenes and had to fight the urge to skip to the end. I am usually "eh" on epilogues but this one gagged me a little.
So yes, five stars. Definitely recommend.

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This book was really interesting. It was obvious from the beginning that we were looking back at past events. Clues to the future were scattered throughout in the form of different texts. But the epilogue is what actually grounds this story and brings everything together. It’s a coming of age story about a young enslaved girl and the circumstances that she grew up in. It also highlights the work of those working behind the scenes to dismantle chattel slavery in the US. More of a character than plot driven story, I found myself really intrigued by the main character, Ady. I liked this book. The formating and the pacing weren’t great to me but I still found myself intrigued throughout.

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This book needs a different title and a different description. I thought I was getting a story of a sisterhood of Black women, both freed and enslaved, who worked to weaken the Confederacy. Instead, I got a coming-of-age story about a young enslaved Black girl, Ady, with the barest hint of the spy ring coming in midway through the novel and not nearly enough time spent on spying and subversion. I don't know if I would have enjoyed the book more had it been titled and marketed differently, but I probably wouldn't have requested an ARC. I struggled to connect to Ady as a character and I felt like the first half of the story especially was a slog. I did end up enjoying the second half more, but I might never have made it that far if I didn't have a personal rule against DNFing ARCs. An interesting premise to be sure, but not the right execution for this particular reader. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group (Random House, One World) for a digital review copy.

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Existence, survival and resistance. Ruffin expertly depicts struggle, family, hatred and naivety. For readers of historical fiction, American fiction, women's fiction, and the Civil War.

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The epilogue bumped my rating from a 3 to a 4. It's hard to explain without giving anything away...I wish that the ideas about history/memory/story had been woven more clearly throughout the book. Perhaps they were and I missed it. That said, I read this book in just a few days because the story was often compelling, if sometimes difficult to take (as any book related to enslavement will be). This book was not what I was expecting. I can't say that I was pleasantly surprised, but if you're at all curious about it, I think it's worth your time to read it.

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Thank you, NetGalley and Random House for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and The American Daughters did not disappoint. This would be a great read for book clubs!

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This story follows Ady, a young girl enslaved with her mother. When we meet them, they’re being sold at the auction to work at a slave labor camp also called plantations ( I love the recurring distinction). Eventually, they escape and we witness them live unofficially free for awhile. That is until a group of slave catchers hired by their previous slaver finds them and captures Sanite, Ady’s mom. Ady was told to run, but she disobeys her mom and tracks her down which results in her being enslaved again. She’s just happy to be back with her mom.

After her mom dies, Ady becomes friends with a group of Black women who hint that they’re involved in dangerous activities. We later find out they’re spies apart of an organization called The Daughters. They gather intelligence, deceive, and sabotage plans in order to help dismantle the efforts of the confederate army.

While I appreciate that this story highlights Black women spies who actively assisted the Union military, I’m disappointed with the timing that we learn about the spy cell. It’s not until around 60% in that we’re told about The Daughters. Even after they’re officially introduced, the details and actions of the group weren’t explored as much as I had hoped.

Based on the description, I was expecting more of the story to be about the adversity, action, and danger of their spy work, but that’s not how the story plays out. Instead, it’s Ady and Sanite enslaved, free, enslaved again, Sanite dies, Ady meets Lenore, starts working at her inn, we get a bit of content about The Daughters, and we see Ady and Lenore’s romantic relationship blossom.

I like the idea of the story more than the execution because the title and book description hints to The American Daughters being a focal point of the story, but it’s not. I feel mislead.

Thank you to NetGalley and One World for the advanced eARC.

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"The American Daughters" by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the compelling story of Ady, an enslaved person, as she grows from young girl to woman in the Antebellum South. It is both heartbreaking and hopeful, and I really enjoyed all of the strong women characters who endured unspeakable trauma and whose bravery and fortitude helped to change history. The writing is good and the characters came alive enough for me to feel both their pain and their happiness. The author definitely did his research to make the story realistic. I was thoroughly riveted at parts. especially those involving the female spy ring called The Daughters (and, to be honest, I wish more of the book had focused on them). Ady is definitely a character I will not soon forget.

This was a five star read to me until I got to the epilogue, where, for me, the book went off the rails. It fast forwards the reader to the future and I found it to be truly bizarre and unnecessary. I thought it was a very strange way to end this historical fiction novel and it didn't really work for me at all.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

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Wonderful book! You will fall in love with Ady. She is one of the most endearing characters I have ever encountered in a book. This book will stay with you.

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The book seemed to have very little about the American Daughters, and was instead fully about Ady herself. I think it would have been fine if it was presented that way, but instead felt like it went in a very different direction.

The story was interesting and well told, and I did like the little I did learn about the American Daughters. I just wish there was more of it. I also liked reading about Lenore and the free black Creoles and business owners. It must have been such an odd and conflicting situation for them.

I will say I had a hard time reconciling Ady and Sanite’s boldness without much retaliation based on everything else I’ve read about the dominant and violent treatment of slaves by slave owners when they aren’t completely subservient. And there wasn’t much either when they were caught as runaways, which was typically horrific. It just didn’t feel like it lined up accurately, and made it hard for me to sort of feel invested.

Also, I didn’t understand the constant full phrasing of “slave labor camp also called plantation”. It got a little bizarre that each time it was referenced it was literally the whole phrase rather than just picking an alias and going with it once it was introduced.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book. All opinions are mine.

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This was a good story about Ady and her mother, who were enslaved in New Orleans. When mother and daughter are separated, Ady must make it on her own. Her life changes when she meets a free black woman named Lenore. The story kept my attention most of the time, but it was also slow in certain places. I didn't feel there was enough information about the Daughters-I would have liked to know more about them. Also, didn't really understand parts of the prologue. This story is good, but not great.
Thank you to Net Galley and Random House Publishing Group for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Pretty good, but didn’t quite meet my expectations based on the author’s earlier work. The plot was slooooooow and it took so long to set up that the action I was hoping for, really never arrived.

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A gripping read about a young girl-Ady-enslaved in New Orleans-and how she works within a group of black women -both free and enslaved-to undermine the slaveholders and the Confederacy. Historical fiction at its best-a genre I have always enjoyed.

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This was a novel I expected great things from but sadly it never quite reached its potential. I could not become attached to the characters which makes reading a novel difficult. I hope to pick up more of the authors work and give them a change.

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In THE AMERICAN DAUGHTERS, we follow Ady, a young and sharp girl enslaved alongside her mother in New Orleans. We watch as she comes of age amidst immense trauma and obstacles, yet with a solid footing in her knowledge of her worth and true self. As the story unfolds, Ady develops friendships with free Black women and works to dismantle the Confederates from the inside out.

Ady and Sanite, her mother, were great main characters to spend a novel with. Both were independent in spirit and willful. This was a coming-of-age story as we watched Ady suffer through physical hardship, the loss of family, and enslavement. The author kept the majority of the violence off the page, which I appreciated. It felt like his focus was more so on Ady and her discovery of self, rather than on recreating the trauma she endured.

Where I think this book suffers is in the marketing. The summary covers about 90% of the plot, and we don't even see Ady meet up with The Daughters until about 60-70% of the way through. That's going to set up the expectation that this will be a thrilling spy novel full of action and intrigue, but it simply isn't that. Go in knowing this is more of a slower-paced, coming-of-age historical fiction novel and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Lastly, I have to add that I found the epilogue to be incredibly bazaar and unnecessary. It was a complete change in genre that's worth skipping.

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This amazing book by Maurice Ruffin was really incredible. He had me at the first paragraph! Andy and her mom, Sanite, were icons. Strong women, independent thinkers who were both stuck in a horrific time in this nations history. Slavery is a blight on American History!! I love how Mr. Ruffin described Lenore, Ady and all the American Daughters. I would like to believe there truly were heroic women like them in our history. I loved this book! Thank you to Mr. Ruffin, NetGalley and Penguin Random House Publishing for the arc!!
Highly recommended reading!

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This was an excellent book. I was hesitant at first to read it because I didn’t want to have to read about Black Trauma. It makes me upset, but once I began reading the book and understood the premise I knew I was going to be in for a joyful reading experience. I will not give away anything or spoil the book for anyone, but this is an excellent book and a must read for anyone who likes historical fiction.

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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This work of historical fiction takes the reader to the French Quarter of New Orleans in the time before and during the Civil War.

Ady and her mother, Sanite, are enslaved together but are eventually split up. Although Ady has grown up in slavery, she sees "free women of color" in New Orleans and learns what life could be like. She is befriended by Lenore at the Mockingbird Inn. Lenore introduces her to a group of women called "The Daughters," who are working underground against the Confederacy.

I learned a lot about New Orleans during this critical time in our Nation's history and how black women helped the Union cause in the fight to abolish slavery.

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