2010 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
||2010 Powell's Staff Top 5s
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
Rock’s unsettling novel doesn’t just linger in the mind; it sets up camp and stares hard as you process the blinding love that would lead a father and daughter into a nomadic existence. Lyrically written and unforgettable, My Abandonment is a masterful examination of parental love and duty, and the state’s role in mandating what those should look like and why. Recommended By Rhianna W., 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.
"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 moving evocation of life on the fringes, sparking many questions about our regulated society." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Peter Rock is the author of four previous novels, most recently The Bewildered, and a collection of stories, The Unsettling. He teaches writing at Reed College.