My Abandonment
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My Abandonment

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,264 ratings  ·  544 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 12th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published March 1st 2009)
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As a Portland resident, it was fun to hear descriptions of the city and Forest Park. I enjoyed the writing style from 13-year-old Caroline's perspective.

After reading some news stories about the true story behind this novel, it's even more intriguing to me!
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a fast, thought-provoking read; but it left me with many unanswered questions, particulary since it was based on a true case. The beginning of the book seemed to include many facts that had been published in news articles, but the ending was Peter Rock's fictional version. I found some of this not to fit the characters. The reference to Elizabeth Smart in the Acknowledgments was disturbing to me.
Even though I have alredy sent this, I am updating for my Best of 2009 list, and this review goes along with Jennie Shortridge's WHEN SHE FLEW:

Both of these are based on the true story of the father and pre-teen daughter who lived off the grid in Portland’s Forest Park for four years but each author treats the story a little differently. Rock’s story is told in an almost surreal and disassociated manner and Shortridge delivers more of an emotional punch. Both are interesting and would be great f...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had forgotten that My Abandonment was largely based on a true story. (The author's website has .pdf copies of the articles he was drawing from.) Somebody from Oregon, and maybe the Pacific Northwest in general, might remember when this was in the news, but I wasn't familiar with it. The second half of the book is Rock's imagined version of what might have happened to Frank and Ruthie (in this book, the girl is called Caroline, and her father goes by several names) after they vanished.

This was an interesting and absorbing book and made for a quick read. I was somewhat familiar with one of the real life stories this book is based on, that of the girl and her father living in Forest Park. After reading My Abandonment, I was left with more questions than answers -- there is no obvious line of distinction between reality and fiction here, and in some ways this seems a shame as the real life story is what brought me to this book. I got the impression reading this that it started o...more
4.5 stars
Lots to love in this novel, starting with the cover. That ghost-like white horse is Randy, 13-year-old Caroline’s little plastic companion and familiar daily presence. If she were a suburban kid living a mainstream life, she would have probably had a cell phone to fondle by now, but she lives in a hidden camp in the woods with her father and Randy accompanies her as she tells the story of her marginal existence.

Written entirely from Caroline’s perspective, the sentence structure is at...more
Bev Rockow
Once in a while, I'll read something so compelling, so fascinating, that I find myself consumed by the characters, wanting to know more than what is revealed by the author. I notice that I'm actively reading, rather than passively letting the words slip in and out of my consciousness. My eyebrows are raised, I'm leaning in as if to hear a little better, and even once in a while whispering out loud, as if the characters could hear my sympathetic murmers as they struggle against whatever obstacles...more
A compelling and thought-provoking book. I live in Portland so I was familiar with the setting in Forest Park & the city. I was also familiar with the true story behind this novel. A father & daughter spent four years living in Forest Park in a shelter the father built. He home-schooled the daughter using his own knowledge & a set of encyclopedias. The father was a veteran & had a small military pension, so they were able to go into the city & buy groceries, clothing as neede...more
Let me start with the following: I am so freaking confused by this book.

When I read the back of the book, I knew it was about a father and his 13 year old kid and they're trucking around all of Portland and living in the woods and all that. That much is true. And before I attempted to really get into the book I did some research on here and found that mostly it was well liked, and the ones that weren't well liked, well, didn't give enough reason for me to be completely turned off.

My issues aren'...more
When I read the blurb for this book, I couldn't wait to read it. Totally my kind of story, mixing human relationships against the backdrop of nature. And it didn't disappoint; in fact, it exceeded expectations. I didn't expect it to be so well written. Why? I admit I'd never heard of writer Peter Rock before. But based on this book, I hope he has some awards waiting for him down the road. He's another one of those writers who flies under the radar because they don't get the big promo deals. But...more
Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of a young girl and her father who live in the woods on the fringes of society outside of Portland, Oregon. The girl is heartbreakingly sweet and naive and the father appears to have raised her with loving kindness. They want nothing more than to be left alone by the world, but you know that's not going to happen. You may think you know where this story is going, but you have no idea. It combines the best aspects of crime story with psychological d...more
Hope Baugh
Wow, what a book. I mean seriously, wow. I can not remember the last time a book so thoroughly grabbed and disturbed me that I literally could not get to sleep after finishing it. (And I _HAD_ to finish it, even if I had not had to finish it for my job!)

This suspenseful contemporary novel about a homeless teen and her father living and hiding in a nature preserve in Oregon was published for adults. I think the topic will interest many of the people that liked the YA novels LIVING DEAD GIRL, by E...more
Deborah Stack
I found this book to be intriguing- the story was fascinating, and upon discovering that it was based in truth, I found myself scrounging up every article I could find which detailed the story of the 'forest family.' The first half or so of the book pulled me in entirely, and I really enjoyed it. It was only after the author began to speculate about what might have happened to the family after their ultimate disappearance that I found myself struggling with the way he handled the story. I simply...more
Despite its rather unappealing title, the book offers an original and interesting insight into homelessness and mental illness, inspired (in part) by a true story. Narrated in the voice of 13-year old Caroline, the story follows the unconventional life of a man and his young daughter in a cave in Forest Park just outside Portland, Oregon. A Vietnam veteran still in the grips of PTSD, Caroline’s father is constantly on the run from authorities, which is partly due to his paranoia and to a secret...more
I'm not entirely sure I would have reached for this one on the basis of title alone had I not already been a fan of Peter Rock's work. Please don't let the dire-sounding title scare you off -- My Abandonment is one of the finest books I've read this year. Publisher's Weekly wrote that this is "a bow to Thoreau and a nod to the detective story" and I think that's a fantastic short assessment of the book. Based on a true story, it's the tale of a thirteen year-old girl who secretly lives in Portla...more
Oswego Public Library District
This is an adult book of psychological fiction for young adults. The story sheds light on the lifestyles of the homeless. A father kidnapped his daughter out of foster care; they have lived for four years now in the forest, close to civilization and camps of homeless people, yet out of sight. In spite of the rugged setting, Caroline gets a decent education from her father and this section of the story is enchanting and appealing. Once they are discovered, separated, and then reunited by state ag...more
John Pappas
Haunting. A father and daughter live almost entirely off the grid in a nature preserve in Oregon. Rock's shimmering prose captures the largely edenic life they share without avoiding the ethical questions involved in this strange family's genesis, and without providing an easy backstory to explain their current way of living. When a jogger discovers the daughter and calls social services, the father and daughter struggle to retain their way of life in a world of shopping malls and crystal meth.


My Abandonment by Peter Rock tells the story of Caroline, a 13 year old girl and her father, living in self made camps in Forest Park, a large nature preserve near Portland, Oregon. There was a true case, documented in the newspapers in Portland of a father and his young daughter in very similar circumstance. This story was part of the key idea this for Rock’s book and has many key ideas that are similar to the true event that took place in Oregon. Caroline was the narrator of the book and the s...more
My Abandonment by Peter Rock was a very interesting read for me. I was able to identify with the book a great deal as by sheer coincidence, I have lived, ate, and run through the locations he had written about. I lived out on NW Hoge in Portland which backs up to Forest Park (and is right past the St. Johns Bridge) for about a year. Oddly enough, I had never heard of any of the background story that Mr. Rock used to help craft the book (and if you haven't either, don't google it first).

The story...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book really spooked me.

Caroline is a 13 year old girl who has been living in the woods near Portland, Oregon for the past four years with her father. She is well cared for, gets home schooling from her father, and has learned from him survival skills - she truly enjoys her woodland home. But, after a trail-runner spots her, she and her father are brought into town for questioning. After telling their story to the police and counselors, they are given a foster home with a horse farmer. Caro...more
Memorable phrases: "There is never a reason not to be polite, I know. To let someone make you angry is always a mistake." (pg 54)
"Your mother would't want you to be worrying about her. That's thinking backward. Your mother would want you thinking where you are, and not too far ahead." (pg 90)

There's a part of me that questions whether he was her father at all or maybe just someone he picked up because he wanted company in the same way that she tried to pick up the 3rd baseman at the softball pra...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by LadyJay for

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....more
*spoiler alert*
I found this retelling of an actual event where a girl was found living with her dad in Forest Park in Portland really compelling until the last 50 pages or so, when the main character, a young girl who was explained with such compassion throughout the first 3/4 of the books, starts acting completely out of character. Throughout the book, we're reminded that she's a self-sufficient, highly intelligent 13 year old. Then there's a scene where she runs into a fellow homeless peer, wh...more
Junot Diaz's quote on the front of this book describes it perfectly: "Mesmerizing and disturbing." It's a quick and easy read, and it definitely kept me interested, but I admit that I was tired of it by the end. There is so much in here that feels off... it's like talking to someone who's slipping in and out of a coma -- their reality is so far from your own. The story revolves around a 13 year old girl, Caroline, who lives with her father in Portland's forest park. They live in a cave and run a...more
I'm ultimately undecided about this book. I picked it up because I remembered the true story the first part of the book is drawn from, and because it was "recommended" at Powell's and I was looking for a few impulse buys. The story is engaging, though the writing is far from masterful. As the story moves beyond its basis in what is known about the family who lived in Forest Park, after their actual disappearance (not that the early part of the story seems like anything but fiction-inspired-by......more
While being a thought intriguing book, I felt that it left me with more questions then answers. While occasionally this type of feeling leaves me inspired to learn more, I felt for this novel it was only a 'way out' of the actual story...I've learned from asking many people out of frustration that the father and daughter (Ruthie) are still living in the Portland area, continuing their free-lance lifestyle.. A little different from Peter Rocks fictional ending...

-Was Caroli...more
Thirteen-year-old Caroline and her father are homeless and living in a forest park in Portland, Oregon. Home-schooled by her father, Caroline is extremely bright--far beyond her peers--but for the most part has the emotional intelligence typical of her age-group. Told through Caroline's somewhat limited perspective, we learn of their past bit-by-bit and, with Caroline, develop a growing awareness of her father's mental issues (perhaps post-traumatic stress syndrome from having fought in a war?)....more
This really deserves more of a 3.5 out of 5. I gravitate towards shorter books, but this is an example of a short book that I really wanted to be longer. I wish the author would have revisited some of the events peppered throughout the novel to make sense of them; the end was kind of unresolved. Normally that doesn't bother me, but I really wanted to understand some of the "clues" laid out. I would have even accepted an afterword of some kind.

I'm looking forward to hearing what my book discussi...more
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A Utah-native, Peter Rock attended Deep Springs College in California's High Desert. He earned his 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 appeared widely. H...more
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