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 waters 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.
BookBrowse Review - Kim Kovacs
In My Abandonment, author Peter Rock makes some good points about homelessness and brings readers' attention to how American society treats those who don't wish to conform to accepted standards of behavior. It's a fast-paced novel that many will enjoy reading. Its flaws, however, are difficult to overlook. The book is marketed as "based on a true story," but readers should be forewarned that only the first half of the book bears any semblance to fact, and even then only marginally. The second half of the novel is entirely the product of the author's imagination, and the situations he devises for his characters make little sense in the context of the rest of the novel. In some cases, events depicted are too preposterous to be even remotely believable. Finally, the voice of the book's narrator, thirteen-year-old Caroline, is too immature and lacks dimension; the story consequently remains unconvincing overall.
"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.
"Starred Review. A compelling read; recommended for all fiction collections." - Library Journal.
"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.
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Rated of 5
Initially, this back captured my interest due to their survival in Forest Park, both because I've been there and because wilderness interests me. This story evolves into what seems to be a predictably sad tale, then crosses into something altogether different. I love books and movies that keep me thinking about them long after I have finished. This book accomplished that. I don't know when I last stayed up until after midnight because I just had to finish a book. I was tired at work today, but it was worth it.
Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His most recent book is The Shelter Cycle, which concerns the end of the world in Montana in 1990, among other things. His previous novel, My Abandonment, has won an Alex Award, the Utah Book Award, and been published in Germany, Turkey and France. He is also the author of the novels The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, This Is the Place, and Carnival Wolves, and a story collection, The Unsettling.
Rock attended Deep Springs College, received a BA in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. He has taught fiction at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Deep Springs College, and in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. His stories and freelance writing have both ...
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