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River House: A Memoir (Tin House New Voice) Paperback – October 1, 2010
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"With her keen eye and talent for writing about the natural world, Lawrence pays homage to the American West. . . 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
"It's messy, this building of houses and relationships, but the experiences give this memoir an existential grace."Kirkus Reviews
"In her stirring memoir, River House, Sarahlee Lawrence describes a yearning to return to her rural Oregon home that’s every bit as powerful as was her youthful need to escape it. . . Lawrence brings her connection to home alive in the classic Oregon-lit tradition of turning landscape and climate into a beautifully surly character."Randy Gragg, Portland Monthly
"It's very simple: If you call Oregon your homenot just Portland, but this whole big awkward schizophrenic statethen you need to go to a bookstore and purchase a copy of Sarahlee Lawrence's River House. . . if there's any justice, it'll become an Oregon classic."Alison Hallet, Portland Mercury
"Astonishing. . . [River House] resonated more deeply with me than anything I've read about Oregon in a long, long time. . . River House pulses with movement."The Oregonian
"Lawrence writes with remarkable candor about her loved ones; the joys and pitfalls of life in a small community; and the creeping development from upscale Bend 40 miles away. She is in her element writing about nature, and it's a treat to share her journey."
"A memoir narrative that pivots off the worlds of landscape and wild water."
The Salt Lake Tribune
"It's a sturdy, honest, and direct recounting of the author's audacious life in unusual places, and is a beautifully clear exposition of her relationships with her parents, neighbors, and friends, living and dead."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Lawrence’s voice, like the desert, is beautiful in its simplicity, while she herself embodies the strong womanhood of the American West. Like her many skills, this debut book is versatileresembling, at intervals, a memoir, nature-adventure writing and easily digestible rural philosophy. Her simple prose makes her adventures in construction, gardening and horse-tending seem as thrilling as Tambopata’s rapids. Lawrence’s writing is honest and, like the river that begins her memoir, raw."
Salt Lake City Weekly
"More action and grit than soul-searching and pretty writing, this memoir ends up a love note to Central Oregon."
The Eugene Register-Guard
"Lawrence’s debut book forecasts the beginning of a new career that of a talented writer. Her descriptive prose paints a vivid and respectful portrait of the natural world, which she clearly treasures. . . River House is a rare accomplishment with a narrative that flows and ebbs like the mighty current of life."
"[Sarahlee Lawrence] has crafted a memoir with sentences that draw one’s attention like a firefly buzzing around your head in the heat of summer."
"A transfixing read. . . the end of River House leaves a reader begging for a sequel."New West
"An engaging piece of literary work about passion, travel, love, and what it means to come home."Wend
"An exquisite story of personal strength and nature."Fort-Wayne News-Sentinel
"River House is about rediscovering family and working through the compromises involved in finding your life, the people and days you actually love. It’s tough, smart and eloquently told, a dead on beauty. Enjoy. I surely did."
William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky and The Willow Field
"Log by log, and word by word, Lawrence locates her love and affirms her commitment to her parents, her place, and the natural world. If you love wild water and land, if you value hard work and family, this is the book not to miss."Phil Condon, author of Clay Center
"In River House, Sarahlee Lawrence tells a story as carefully hewn and crafted, as lovingly rendered, as the log cabin she and her father have built together in the high desert of central Oregon. It’s a story of roots; the pull of the land that calls her back to the heart of her family farm. And it’s the story of wings, the journey of a father and a daughter each coming to terms with a dream."Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean
Lawrence is a promising voice of nature writing’s next generation as evidence by the rich and poetic language that matches the breath-taking scenery it describes.”National Book Critics Circle
Sarahlee Lawrence has experienced more adventure in a couple of decades than most of us can hope for in a lifetime.”Orion Magazine
"Only once before have I seriously considered calling in sick so I could read nonstop. [River House] made the second time. . . This is not just a book. This is more."Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Top Customer Reviews
You know from the beginning that this will not be a tale of a sensible, reasonable woman.
There is intolerance and bitterness here (many times with understandable justification) of any city dweller who comes to live in their locale, and of their McMansions. She" knew how rich people liked to settle in the sagebrush where there's privacy and a view. It gives them a reason to drive their expensive cars".
She loves her mother and father and this work with her father is a time for them she says, but yet there is much she does not respect about him," only my father could teach me how to survive the desert for a lifetime. Not by his successes, but by his failures". He always has his jar of weed and makes much use of it throughout his life. He is indeed a lost surfer, far from the sea.
It is often hard to picture what she is doing, both in her river rafting and in the building of the house. Her descriptions of the high desert are detailed but something is missing elsewhere in her explanatory method.
There is much aggravation here, both towards her, at her attitude, and her father - to each other and it leaches out to include the reader many times.Read more ›
Sarah Lee wrote with blunt, direct honesty. She was clear to me as a conflicted person, as were her parents. The relationships were so well drawn out I thought they were being acted out three feet from my face. I was scared on the river rafting trips FOR her, I was exhausted just listening to all she had to do to build that darn log cabin, and I was frustrated and tearful with all the stress and work of running a farm, while at the same time wanting to run and see the rest of the world in action. It's a gripping read.
It skipped around some so it was hard to tell sometimes the actual time of events, but in the end I was left with wanting more. I hope to see more from this new author!
through moments of despair dodging some mighty physical and psychological bullets
refreshing, revealing and nicely descriptive renderings of a soul journey
But the book is much more than its action. It is at one level the personal story of a young woman's love for, and desire to understand, a difficult and enigmatic father. Through their interactions, the reader comes to have an affection and sympathy for this strange character, even while aching for his daughter's longing to somehow subvert his craving to leave the ranch - a longing that is always just below the surface of her portrait. At another level, River House is a classic story of the American West and its people - tough, hardy, taciturn, but passionate and unwavering in taking on and finishing prodigious challenges.
This is a book about courage of many kinds, of perseverance, of thrilling excitement and grueling labor, of finding beauty and peace in difficult circumstances, and most of all, it is a book about hard, demanding, and yes, painful love.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
River House is a beautiful story. I think what struck me the most is the vulnerability of Lawrence's writing. Read morePublished on May 4, 2014 by Carrie
This is a true story of Rainshadow Organics in Oregon. Author Sarahlee Lawrence babbles on and on in her book about her pothead dad, building her house, and her general... Read morePublished on March 15, 2014 by Swedey
Sarahlee Lawrence is a talented writer with an important story to tell about the lessons learned in following your heart and your passions, and growing up in a remarkable family. Read morePublished on June 3, 2012 by AmazonFan
I am an avid reader of river rafting adventures that people have taken around the world Through her words, this memoir shares Sarahlee's travels and excitement with the reader. Read morePublished on April 17, 2012 by Autumn Oak
I had heard about this book last year and was eager to grab it when I saw it at the library yesterday. Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by Truck Lover