Books in Common NW is especially delighted to welcome fellow bookseller Tina Ontiveros to share her new memoir Rough House.
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 poverty in The Dalles. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Tina Ontiveros is a writer, teacher, and bookseller based in the Pacific Northwest. She was born in Idaho and went to eight different schools growing up. Tina 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.
Tina is the first person in her family to go to college and she completed her college education while raising her children. After community college she earned her BA in Literature at Marylhurst University and then her MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Goddard College. She has worked for over 10 years at Oregon’s oldest bookstore.
As a writer and a teacher, Tina’s work explores class, generational hardship, and the social constructs that marginalize the poor. Her essay, The Life We Pay For, was a top ten most read of 2019 Oregon Humanities Magazine feature.