My Abandonment

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A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. There they inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, bathe 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 and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their ...

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My Abandonment

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Overview

A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. There they inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, bathe 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 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.
Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of a young narrator, Caroline, Peter Rock's My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins, and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
ADVANCE PRAISE FORMY ABANDONMENT

 

“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

Publishers Weekly

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. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Rock's fifth novel (after The Bewildered) is narrated by 13-year-old Caroline, who lives in a woodsy area near Portland, OR, with her father, not in a tidy suburban neighborhood but in a cave. They visit the city periodically, carefully dressed in city clothes so as not to attract attention, where Father picks up his government checks "for being in a war." It's up to Caroline to calm her father during his frequent nightmares about helicopters swarming and rattling the night. Their unconventional life changes suddenly when the authorities swoop in to take charge of Caroline and her father and send them to a farm where Father is put to work. Even though Caroline is content with the routine and their small but clean living quarters, Father still can't tolerate being confined, and they escape back into the woods only to meet tragedy again. The novel has many uneasy moments and allusions to stories left untold in Caroline's life, but Rock's insight into his characters' worries and hopes propels the story to its emotional conclusion. A compelling read; recommended for all fiction collections.
—Donna Bettencourt

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151014149
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/12/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet 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, PETER 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2009

    Frightening and fascinating

    My Abandonment is a stark tale of what happens to people who live outside what is considered the norm. Caroline and her father live hidden away in a 5,400 acre park outside Portland, Oregon. They live by their own code, never stealing, respecting the world around them, and with Caroline being homeshcooled by her father. They are safe until a small slip allows the authorities to find them and force them to live in a way more acceptable to society.
    This is a frightening yet fascinating look at the lives of people living on the edge. Caroline is forced to grow up fast and to be stronger and more resourceful then any person should ever have to be. My heart ached for her while I admired her at the same time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com

    Caroline and her father live in a forest park just outside Portland, Oregon. Her father has taught Caroline how to survive without technology or man-made things. She does not go to school - instead she learns from reading an old set of encyclopedias. Caroline plants a garden, observes wildlife from the tops of tall trees, and accompanies her father into the city when they run low on supplies.

    They are usually ignored, and are careful not to draw attention. It is almost inevitable that Caroline makes a mistake. Father and daughter are taken into police custody and given the opportunity to lead "normal" lives. This type of normalcy is not welcome, and the two flee in search of a simpler existence once again.

    I will be honest; it was difficult for me to become attached to the story. The dialogue between Caroline and her father is choppy and sporadic at times. It was difficult for Caroline's father to express himself; therefore, he relied on the words of someone else, a famous author, like Thoreau, for instance.

    At first, I felt nothing for Caroline, but that changed as I followed her on this strange journey. Caroline's father obviously loved her, but could not come to terms with his own inner demons. Caroline's story is beautiful, bizarre, and surreal.

    MY ABANDONMENT will make you think, and perhaps be grateful for what you already have.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Good read

    Good read, makes you think. Interesting story but left me with a lot of questions.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A little bit disturbing but warrants discussion.

    November's choice for my face to face book club. The story was inspired by newspaper story the author had seen. It discussed how a young girl was found living in the forest with her father. The author always wondered what became of her and used the inspiration to write his first novel. Although written in straightforward prose, it took me a while to get used to the author's style. The first time I started it I had to put it down after about 20 pages, it felt as if I was walking into the middle of a conversation and wasn't able to figure out what was going on. Picked it up again after about a week and was able to read on through.

    I don't want to give too much away so my remarks will be cryptic and guarded. In the beginning of the book I wanted to give Father the benefit of the doubt about being individualistic in how he was raising his daughter (i.e. just because it isn't society's "norm" does it make it wrong?) but later it was clear I could not. The author walks the middle line on our perceptions of Father (for a while, at least) and he does an excellent job of depicting how children can be altered by lifestyles.

    I predict an intense discussion with this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 27, 2012

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    Posted November 25, 2012

    Apprentice den

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