River House: A Memoir (Tin House New Voice)

by Sarahlee Lawrence

Paperback, 2010

Call number

797.1 LAW



Tin House Books (2010), Edition: 1, 272 pages


As a girl growing up in remote central Oregon, Sarahlee Lawrence dreamed of leaving her small town in search of adventure. By the age of twenty-one, she had rafted some of the most dangerous rivers of the world as an accomplished river guide. But living her dream as guide and advocate, riding and cleaning the arteries of the world, led her back to the place she least expected to find herself--her dusty beginnings and her family's ranch"--Cover flap.

User reviews

LibraryThing member blancaflor
As a Western Oregonian who has from time to time crossed over the Cascade Range and wondered about how mysterious and magical it seems in the High Desert I found River House to be a very satisfying read. If you've ever wondered about what it would be like to live in this area, it is a memoir that reads like a novel and will make you still stay with the story. The author's frames her narrative of building a log cabin on her parents' property in Terrebonne, OR around her rafting trips around the world. Her rafting descriptions seemed like only a necessary literary device. Rather, I was more interested in the leaving the rafting trip. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the author did more telling in this part than showing.

The author's relationship with her father carried most of the narrative, and it was neat. I however found that the last few chapters where her father was leaving, were almost too expected and redundant. She could have shortened them or ended the story early. Thus we are left with a story that has a really good middle, but the ending and the beginning were not as good.

Also interesting, if not completely helpful were the author's descriptions of how she built her house. I got a sense of the hard work she put in, enjoyed the writing, yet still had trouble visualizing the house or the process. The other land use issues the author shared about were interesting as well for Oregonians. They were a great description of how one community dealt with recent land and water use issues.
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LibraryThing member dablackwood
I was a little disappointed in this book but in fairness to the author I should really only be disappointed in myself. It was exactly what it set out to be - and nicely written as well. Somewhere along the line I wanted it to be more. Sarahlee Lawrence is a strong and interesting woman who builds a house in Oregon during an incredibly harsh winter. That's what she set out to do, and she does it. She also comes to terms with her parents and their disparate lives and dreams. I think the reason I didn't like it more is that I wanted more.… (more)




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