Once in a while, I’ll read something so compelling, so fascinating, that I find myself consumed by thoughts of the characters, wanting to know more than what is revealed by the author. I notice that I’m actively reading, rather than 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 murmurs as they struggle against whatever obstacles they are facing. Peter Rock’s “My Abandonment” is such a book.
Told from the perspective of a thirteen year old girl, “My Abandonment” is the story of Caroline and her father, who live “off the grid” in a nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. The nameless “Father” has built a life for the two of them in an elaborate shelter with extensive systems and routines to avoid detection. Caroline is well cared for, educated by her father out of a set of Britannica Encyclopedias. They are fiercely loyal to one another, separating the rest of the world into “us” and those who are “not like us”. When a small mistake is made, they are forced to leave the existence they have carved out for something more acceptable in the eyes of the world.
The book is based on the true story of Frank and Ruthie who were discovered living in Forest Park in 2005. While the story of Frank and Ruthie has never been resolved, Peter Rock takes the tale to a conclusion that is both believable and memorable, disturbing and thought provoking.
My thanks to Nikoal on Goodreads for providing the links to the story of Frank and Ruthie.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars