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My Abandonment

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  5,662 ratings  ·  988 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, 225 pages
Published March 12th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published March 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  5,662 ratings  ·  988 reviews

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Jonathan Ashleigh
I like this book in a similar way to how I enjoyed Room, they are both innocent perspectives. Coincidentally, I didn’t realize My Abandonment was based on actual events or that it was meant to be YA (it was recommended to me by a goodreads page that is definitely adult). I figured out it was actual events pretty fast because it states that some things actually did happen at the beginning of the book. The story is of a man and his daughter who were discovered living in a park and as I read I coul ...more
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2009
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!
Jul 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
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'
Apr 16, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
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 needed, & go to the libra ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
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.

Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
*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
Feb 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
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
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I finished up My Abandonment with more questions than answers. The book tells the story of Caroline, a 13-year-old who is living in a nature preserve with her father outside Portland, Oregon. Her father is a vet with PTSD and paranoia problems. Even though they are living out of doors, at first it seems like an idyllic life. Her father receives government checks, they visit grocery stores and the library, and they’ve created a homey outdoor residence complete with a homemade shower. Caroline’s f ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This book is a really solid read while you're in the process of reading it. Strong voice, beautiful writing, compelling storyline. Once you surface and start to survey it as a whole, though, it starts to fall apart.

**Spoilers on minor plot points follow**

Rock was basing his novel on real life events. For the first hundred pages or so, he follows the story almost exactly as he first encountered it in the news: a thirteen-year-old girl and her father have lived off the grid in Portland's Forest Pa
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Cherise Wolas
Intriguing and mysterious and based, in part, on a true story. The first-person narrator is Caroline, 13, living with Father in a home-made shelter in a forest park outside Portland, Oregon. Thoreau meets a kind of slow and eerie uncovering of what has really gone on here. Love, attachment, and survival. As the mystery unfolds, it provides more questions than answers, and is fascinating and completely unsettling.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
I watched the first half of Leave No Trace so when I started this book I recognized it immediately. And in fact the first part of the movie follows the first 50% of the book almost exactly. Right about the point I stopped watching the movie (my flight landed) is where the book got really unsettling. The first half is somewhat of a charming human interest story, told through the eyes of a 13 year old who has been living in the woods with her father, shunning a conventional existence. This part is ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was not just boring, it felt like a waste of time.

I can forgive a book for being boring, it happens. But I find it harder to shake the feeling that I actually wasted my time reading a book. And that's the case here. I'm actually shocked by the fact that this was turned into a movie. It's so dull! Or maybe I'm incapable of understanding the deeper message of this (I don't think it has any, mind you).

This had so much potential that was just wasted. So many different choices could have been ma
Dec 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: outdoor-world
The difference between being afraid of the human world and its brokenness and being in love with the natural world and its beauty is the difference between this book (which focuses on the former) and the movie it inspired (Leave No Trace, which is very much a meditation on the latter).
Tara Shade
Mar 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
The first half, the half based on a true story, was intriguing. Once Rock ran out of that tale to tell, the wheels fell off instantaneously. A terrible ending to a story that deserved more.
Jenn "JR"
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The unreliable narrator to end all -- this is a sad story of a bright young girl abducted from her home by a man who may or may not be her father. He treated her well and raised her in the woods, filling her head with many ideas of a counter-establishment nature, encouraging her to educate herself, pay attention and learn.

The book carries on with the story of a father and his daughter who made the news after they were picked up for living in a park in Portland. They disappeared from the public e
Mar 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I made it about half way through before giving up on this book. I initially thought that this book was true, but upon more investigation discovered that it is very loosely based on a true situation. The language became increasingly worse throughout and discovering that this is a work of fiction left me little desire to finish.
Christina “6 word reviewer” Lake
Thoreau’s daughter re-writes *The Road*
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-1
Do yourself a favor and skip this inauthentic, strange little novel and watch the beautiful, touching, and emotional movie instead.
Kerri Anne
This book is a supremely fictional account of a true story of a father and daughter found living (happily and safely) in Forest Park (the massive and beautiful city park I lived blocks away from in Portland, and where Matt and I had our first date: a seven-hour hike until we lost the light) back in 2003.

The truth of the story centers around the fact that they were living in the woods with the tiniest of ecological footprints; so tiny, in fact, they went undetected there for years. Once found, t
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Deborah Stack
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book I chose to read is called My Abandonment. It is based on a true story, and it’s about a thirteen year old girl and her father who live in a huge forest preserve in Portland, Oregon. When I first picked up this book, I wasn’t that interested, but as soon as I started reading it I was intrigued. I am about halfway through the book, and so far they were found by the police and had to leave their “home” in the forest. Social workers and psychologists realized they were both incredibly intel ...more
Heidi Potenza
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I dove right into this book and finished it in a few hours. I didn't read any reviews beforehand as I wanted to keep an open mind. What a fascinating story about a girl and her "father" living in the wilderness. Now that I see it was based on a true story, the book is even more compelling. I was amazed that a man wrote this book from the perspective of a young girl, as the writing was so personal and deeply intimate. It left me with quite a few "what if's" and unanswered questions, but I am glad ...more
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Peter Rock was born and raised in Salt Lake City. His most recent novel is The Night Swimmers, which involves open water swimming, fatherhood, psychic photography and the use of isolation tanks as a means to inhabit the past. He is also the author of the novels SPELLS, Klickitat, The Shelter Cycle, My Abandonment, The Bewildered, The Ambidextrist, Carnival Wolves and This Is the Place, as well as ...more

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