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Synopsis

What happens to a little girl who grows up without a father? Can she ever feel truly loved and fully alive? Does she ever heal—or is she doomed to live a wounded, fragmented life and to pass her wounds down to her own children? Fatherlessness afflicts nearly half the households in America, and it has reached epidemic proportions in the African-American community, with especially devastating consequences for black women. In this powerful, searingly intimate book, accomplished journalist, poet, and fiction writer Jonetta Rose Barras breaks the code of silence and gives voice to the experiences of America's fatherless women—starting with herself.

"We are legions—a choir of wounded—listen to the dirge we sing," writes Barras of the millions of black women like her who lost, either through abandonment, rejection, poverty, or death, the men who gave them life. A father is the first man in a girl's life—the first man to look in her eyes, protect her, care for her, love her unconditionally. Fathers fashion their daughters as expertly and as powerfully as they do their sons. When a girl loses this man, she grows up with an ache that nothing else can soothe. Psychologists have found that fatherless daughters are far more likely to suffer from debilitating rage, depression, abuse, and addictions; they tend to seek "sexual healing" through promiscuity or anti-intimate behavior and end up fearing or despising the men whose love they crave.

Barras knows from personal experience the traps and the fury of being a black fatherless daughter, and she makes her own life story the heart and soul of her book, alternating chapters of spellbinding memoir with the stories she has gathered from women all over the country.

Passionate and shockingly frank, Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl is the first book to explore the plight of America's fatherless daughters from the unique perspective of the African-American community. Like Hope Edelman's New York Times bestseller Motherless Daughters, this brilliant volume gives all fatherless daughters the knowledge that they are not alone and the courage to overcome the hidden pain they have suffered for so long.

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