Beginning during Nixon's presidency, this novel spans several decades, ending with Obama's election, and following the life of Daley and her relationship with her father. At the novel's beginning, Daley is eleven years old and her mother is leaving her father. Her mother asks Daley to go away with her for the summer, and despite Daley picking out a puppy with her father just days before, she does not tell her father of her mother's plan for them. The two leave, and when they return, her mother has rented an apartment in town. Thus begins a very complicated relationship with her father. Perhaps Gardiner felt rejected by his daughter or betrayed. His feelings are never fully revealed, as the story centers around Daley. However her father may have felt, his outright rejection of his daughter upon her return is evident. Already by summer's end he has found a woman to replace her mother, whose daughter has already moved in to Daley's bedroom.
As an adult about to embark on a career as a professor at Berkeley, Daley is summoned home to help her father who has let his alcoholism take over his life when his second wife leaves him. Putting her own plans on hold Daley goes home for what she initially believes is a short stay, but ends up altering her own plans as her father's selfishness creates a guilt in Daley.
King does a superb job of realistically portraying the ties of a family. While Daley's father was not a very likeable character, I could understand Daley's tie to him and her need to attempt to help him, even at the risk of losing something she had worked hard for. She was still seeking her father's approval years after she was initially rejected by him and would do anything for him in order to gain that approval.
Daley's boyfriend, Jonathan, is so likeable and such a balancing force in her life, that I was rooting for them to find happiness with each other, despite setbacks.
The third section of Father of the Rain jumps forward fifteen years, allowing us to see how Daley's life moves on and what has happened to the relationship she had with her father. King is able to resolve the lifelong struggle Daley and her father's relationship brought them.
Readers won't be disappointed with this story. I stayed up late into the night reading just to find out how things were resolved.