A gripping historical novel about a spirited girl who joins a sisterhood working to undermine the Confederates—from the award-winning author of We Cast a Shadow
“I knew from page one that this wasn’t going to be a typical journey through a familiar history. . . . A splendid work.”—Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets
Ady, a curious, sharp-witted girl, and her fierce mother, Sanite, are inseparable. Enslaved to a businessman in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the pair spend their days dreaming of a loving future and reminiscing about their family’s rebellious and storied history. When mother and daughter are separated, Ady is left hopeless and directionless until she stumbles into the Mockingbird Inn and meets Lenore, a free Black woman with whom she becomes fast friends. Lenore invites Ady to join a clandestine society of spies called the Daughters. With the courage instilled in her by Sanite—and with help from these strong women—Ady learns how to put herself first. So begins her journey toward liberation and imagining a new future.
The American Daughters is a novel of hope and triumph that reminds us what is possible when a community bands together to fight for their freedom.
About the Author
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, which was longlisted for the Story Prize and was a finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and We Cast a Shadow, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and International Dublin Literary Award. A recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction, he has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, the Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. A native of New Orleans, he is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a professor of creative writing at Louisiana State University.
“I knew from page one that this wasn’t going to be a typical journey through a familiar history. Wonderfully structured with a genius conceit, Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s The American Daughters is a thoughtful, courageous, exciting invitation to look beneath the surface—to uncover, peel back, find, and examine the hidden, lost, and missing fragments of the record, the recovery of which will lead us to discover the spirit of resistance embodied by our ancestors and awaken it in ourselves. . . . A splendid work.”—Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist The Prophets
“The American Daughters is an emotionally and intellectually captivating journey through slavery and into our future. It is a wholly unique story that challenges what we think we know of the past, truth, American history, and how we will carry what was into what will be. With fully fleshed out characters and enchanting detail, antebellum New Orleans is vivid in Ruffin’s rendering, and Ady is an unforgettable protagonist, a character who meets the crossroads of history with remarkable courage and enduring love.”—Imani Perry, author of South to America
“Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s third book is a tour de force. An intelligent and haunting novel that grapples with the legacies of American slavery, The American Daughters features a sparkling cast of engaging Black women that you won’t soon forget.”—Lauren Wilkinson, author of American Spy
“Ruffin’s dignified prose and focus on the bonds of women of color help elevate the novel from the tropes of slavery narratives, and he paints a vibrant picture of antebellum New Orleans. Readers won’t be able to resist this stirring story of freedom by any means necessary.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A high adventure, a revealing history, and a chronicle of one woman’s self-realization. Ruffin also displays some of the cunning imagination and caustic wit he showed in his previous work by interspersing his narrative with imagined transcripts from the past, present, and even the future. Black women as agents—literally—of their own liberation. Who wouldn’t be inspired?”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review