The Clean Daughter: A Cross-Continental Memoir
July 7, 2022
4 PM PDT | 5 PM MDT | 6 PM CDT | 7 PM EDT
Adapting to a cross-cultural marriage while living in these remote areas was both demanding and delightful. Trying to understand my Dutch father-in-law, was another matter. Izaak was a pastor with a fondness for prestige, protocol, and punctuality. We never had the relationship I hoped for. Beneath his calm demeanor and clerical garb, Izaak carried the wounds of growing up in Nazi- Occupied Holland. Childhood chaos led him to become a man who had all the answers.
For everyone. Except himself.
When Izaak decided to end his life – while still a healthy man – using legalized euthanasia in the Netherlands, our tumultuous relationship was over. But I couldn’t move on. Ten years later, still exhausted by thoughts of Izaak, I returned to the Netherlands searching for understanding.
The Clean Daughter is a story of building family across cultural, linguistic, and geographical divides. The complicated ways families both destroy and heal one another underpin my story of a family held together by tenacity, curiosity, and courage.
I began writing at the age of forty, winning both the Autumn House Nonfiction Prize and the Sarton Women’s Literary Award for my first book So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village. Writing is my way of making sense of a life lived on four continents and a cross-cultural marriage that has lasted over forty years.