By Peter Rock
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151014149, 240pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
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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 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.
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.
What is it about the human spirit? Even in the most emotionally and physically trying times, somehow, it is able to remain victorious. Author Susan Choi recommends three tales of struggle and, ultimately, of those who achieve great feats in the face of adversity. More at NPR.org
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- When the book opens, Caroline and Father are scavenging scrap metal from a junk yard. “ ‘You see, Caroline,’ Father says, ‘all the work I’m doing here for these people, organizing all these different things. This is how we are paying them back for what we’re taking’ ” (p. 4). Why is it important to Father to “pay back” for what they take? Is Father concerned with morality? Can you find other examples where he justifies an action that others might think is wrong? How does Caroline see Father’s actions? Does the way Caroline judges Father change over the course of the book?
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