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"Lawrence grew up on a ranch in the high desert of Oregon, where her strong, unflappable mother is content, but where her father, a surfer in a place of little water and epic winters, suffers like a caged bird. Lawrence develops a passion for rivers, and at a young age, she becomes an accomplished, seemingly fearless, world-traveling river guide and advocate pleased with her roughing-it, transient life. Until she finds herself on the flooded, hence monstrous, Tambopata River on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Suddenly, it seems imperative that she build her own log house on her family’s land, just as her parents did. Surely this will make her father happy. Instead, he’s instructively adversarial, and her strenuous and dangerous work on the ranch caring for 40 horses and constructing her house in the bitter cold is as harrowing and demanding as any wilderness sojourn. Handy with tools and rafts, a good neighbor, and a mighty fine horsewoman, Lawrence is also adept with language, writing with arresting lucidity and a driving need to understand her father, her legacy, the land, community, work, and herself. A true adventure story of rare dimension." Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Determined to leave her home in the high desert of Oregon, Lawrence departed at an early age to work as a river guide running some of the world's wildest ribbons of water. Though beguiled by her worldwide fresh-water exploits, Lawrence found herself longing for the arid environment of her upbringing while sitting in a rain-soaked tent in a South American jungle. "For the first time, I wanted to go back. I was ready to explore my own place for once, to live and work each season in an ecosystem as familiar as Sunday breakfast." Lawrence explores the deep bond she shares with her troublesome yet lovable father as together they build the house of her dreams on the family ranch. She chronicles her deep connection to the dry, beautiful landscape of eastern Oregon. With her keen eye and talent for writing about the natural world, Lawrence pays homage to the American West, capturing the changes washing over her rural hometown as it transitions to a playground for the vacationing rich. Lawrence is one of those remarkable young women spawned by the American West who are adept at running wild rivers, operating heavy equipment, and building a log home, all evocatively told in this informative book." Publishers Weekly

"Returning home to build a house and a life proves to be a bittersweet experience for Lawrence, a farmer making her writing debut. The author was a globetrotting river guide living in Chile when a visit from her father awakened her to something amiss. He worked the family farm in central Oregon and wanted nothing more than to get away from the ranch to surf at the beach. She was living a dream, he reminded her. She hadn’t made the effort to learn the language, and she wasn’t making the connections. “In fact,” her father told her, “you don’t even deserve to be here.” That stung, for Lawrence both loved her father and held him in high esteem. After some serious reflection, she decided to return home, build a house and establish herself at the ranch and in the community. In limpid, emotional prose, the author writes about constructing her cabin with her father during five mean winter months, during which he taught her about the art of building. “Listen to that saw,” he said. “It’s talking to you all the time…Tools have their space just like a partner in a dance. The space should be rigid and respected.” But as Lawrence gradually melded into place, her father slowly fell away, unhinged by too many years denying his dream of riding long curls off the Mexican coast—and by too many years behind the hash pipe. As this push-pull of father, daughter, mother and place makes its melancholic way, the author sprinkles the story with lovely images: surfing an irrigation canal, seeing a mountain lion at close range, breaking the ice in the horses’ troughs, constructing a neighborhood pipeline. It’s messy, this building of houses and relationships, but the experiences give this memoir an existential grace."Kirkus Reviews


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