2010 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
Based on a true story, My Abandonment is the story of a Portland father and his teenage daughter who actually lived for several years in a cave in Forest Park. No one knew they were there, but when their story came to light, there was an outcry among the city's residents on behalf of the family. Peter Rock, a writing professor at Portland's Reed College, tells their story in prose at once spare and graceful, and manages to twist the story in a totally different direction than I had anticipated. I did not foresee the surprise at the end; I actually gasped out loud! This beautifully written little gem is absolutely perfect! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A riveting and unsettling novel about a girl and her father who live off the grid, in the shadows at the edge of civilization. A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. They inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, wash in a nearby creek, store perishables at the water's edge, use a makeshift septic system, tend a garden, even keep a library of sorts.
Once a week, they go to the city to buy groceries, attend church, and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight.
In the tradition of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild and Elizabeth Gilbert's Last American Man, Peter Rock's My Abandonment, inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of his young protagonist, Caroline, is an eerie and mesmerizing book of survival and hope, and a completely original novel of a remarkable and triumphant transformation.
"The engaging but limited perspective of 13-year-old Caroline, 'the hillbilly girl that lived in the park,' reveals a highly circumscribed world. When first met, Caroline and Father are scavenging for materials to make a shelter in the 'forest park' outside of Portland, Ore., where they seem to be hiding out. They make cautious trips into the city to the supermarket and the library, but a lapse by Caroline brings police attention, and they are taken into custody. Jean Bauer, whose profession is unclear, helps Father secure employment and brings pots and pans and school clothes for Caroline. Who are these two? Caroline walks 'past posters with my face on them, my old name, and no one sees me.' Father says: 'If I weren't your father... how could I have walked right into your backyard and walked away with you and no one said a word?' This is a tale of survival, of love and attachment, of mystery and alienation. It is an utterly entrancing book, a bow to Thoreau and a nod to the detective story. Every step of this narrative, despite providing more questions than answers, rings true." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A moving evocation of life on the fringes, sparking many questions about our regulated society." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[D]eeply unsettling and finely wrought....My Abandonment is a haunting novel, masterfully told." Booklist
"Peter Rock's My Abandonment is an electrically charged, bone-deep and tender tale of loss and partial redemption. Surreal, haunting, elegiac." James Ellroy
"This beautiful, strange novel takes us into the foreign country where those called homeless are at home, the city is wilderness, and the greater wilderness lies beyond. Fascinating and moving, it tells with great tenderness how human love goes wrong." Ursula K. Le Guin
"Rock's insight into his characters' worries and hopes propels the story to its emotional conclusion. A compelling read..." Library Journal
A riveting and unsettling novel about a girl and her father who live off the grid, in the shadows at the edge of civilization.
In the tradition of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, Rock's My Abandonment, inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of his young protagonist, offers a riveting and unsettling account of a girl and her father who live off the grid.
About the Author
Inspired by the discovery of a man and his twelve-year-old daughter found living in a sophisticated camp hidden deep in Portland's Forest Park, Pter Rock wrote My Abandonment to imagine the rest of their story. The author of four other novels, most recently The Bewildered, and a collection of stories, The Unsettling, Rock teaches writing at Reed College.