Take a father who longs to be part of his daughter’s life, a broken marriage between an interracial couple, and a young girl who grows up knowing a part of her life is missing. Add a legacy of alcoholism and addiction that follows the girl into adulthood, and her need to know the side of the family she was never around. Mix in a rebellious teenage girl, potbellied pigs, an intriguing male neighbor, and a fence line built of oven doors, and you have The Fence My Father Built.
Set mostly in the open range of Central Oregon, Ms. Clare’s novel follows the story of Muri Pond, who has been called to settle some family business left behind when her father dies. A feud existed between her dad and Linc Jackson, the man who "owns" the town, with the ownership of land and a creek in question. It’s up to Muri to find the cause of the disagreement and try to right it. In the process, she discovers much about her own background and faith, and why it’s so important.
Ms. Clare draws from her own experience of discovering her Native American heritage. She brings to life eccentric characters whose lives present an interesting change from the norm. She did a great job capturing the ongoing clash between Muri and her teenage daughter. (I’m thinking the voice of experience here!) Ms. Clare deals with cultural relationships that are seldom explored in books, leading to thought-provoking moments for the reader.
The Fence My Father Built is a well-written novel that will leave you waiting impatiently for Ms. Clare’s next book. I gladly give it four stars.