Paper pub. date
September 2020
ISBN 9780870710339 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870710346 (ebook)
6 x 9, 196 pages. 4 b&w images

rough house

a memoir

tina ontiveros

Tina Ontiveros was born into timber on both sides of the family. Her mother spent summers driving logging trucks for her family’s operation, and her father was the son of an itinerant logger, raised in a variety of lumber towns, as Tina herself would be.

A story of growing up in turmoil, rough house recounts a childhood divided between a charming, mercurial, abusive father in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and a mother struggling with small-town poverty. It is also a story of generational trauma, especially for the women—a story of violent men and societal restrictions, of children not always chosen and frequently raised alone.

Ontiveros’s father, Loyd, looms large. Reflecting on his death and long absence from her life, she writes, “I had this ridiculous hope that I would get to enjoy a functional relationship with my father, on my own terms, now that I was an adult.” In searingly honest, straightforward prose, rough house is her attempt to carve out this relationship, to understand her father and her family from an adult perspective.

While some elements of Ontiveros’s story are universal, others are indelibly grounded in the logging camps of the Pacific Northwest at the end of the twentieth century, as the lumber industry shifted and contracted. Tracing her childhood through the working-class towns and forests of Washington and Oregon, Ontiveros explores themes of love and loss, parents and children, and her own journey to a different kind of adulthood.

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About the author

tina ontiveros is a writer, teacher, and bookseller based in the Pacific Northwest. She was raised below the federal poverty line, living mostly with her single mother at the edge of the Oregon desert, but often with her constantly migrating dad in small timber towns around the Pacific Northwest. Today, Tina lives at the bottom of Mt. Hood and teaches writing and literature at Columbia Gorge Community College.

Read more about this author

The title of Tina Ontiveros’ new memoir, rough house, says it all, describing both the delight of her clever father and his menacing flip-side. Ontiveros pulls no punches in portraying a hardscrabble childhood in Pacific Northwest logging camps and her desperate love for a darkly complicated man.
—Debra Gwartney, author of I am a Stranger Here Myself

In spite of her struggle, there is something so plucky and honest about this book’s narrator, you will be converted to a new view of your own troubles. You will look at your own life through the lens of this book, knowing with Ontiveros that “certain beauties can only be seen in the complication of hardship.” This kid’s got the goods to survive, and this book’s got a big story for you.
—Kim Stafford, author of Singer Come from Afar


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