Upon opening My Abandonment by Peter Rock, you realize that you’re opening up a book that is very, very different.
My Abandonment isn’t fancy or academic. It’s not particularly graceful or fluent, but rather brutally honest. It’s a no-holds-barred kind of story, one that describes life and love as it really is: painful, quick, and often very lonely. It’s the kind of tale you’d expect to find in a young adult novel, but it’s written with the insight and experience of someone who’s lived through many a tragedy.
Inspired by a true story, the book follows thirteen year-old Caroline, who lives with her father in Forest Park, a nature preserve bordering Portland, Oregon. They grow their own food, use the left-over materials that society leaves behind, and they even keep a library of sorts. They fare pretty well, considering that they’re homeless. Their life is peaceful, organized, and- most importantly- secret. However, one small mistake allows a jogger to discover their way of life. Through this discovery, Caroline and her father are sent through a life-changing journey that leaves them shaken and changed. But Caroline’s shocking memories reveal a different story, one that questions her seemingly innocent life in the forest.
As someone who has lived in Oregon her whole life, I can understand the perspective that Mr. Rock takes on homelessness. However, the plotline of this book is a bit outlandish and unrealistic. I don’t see any of the numerous homeless people I encounter on a regular basis taking to the local nature preserve and camping out. On top of that, Caroline’s character seems to switch between being child-like and innocent, and then independent and self-determined, which can get confusing at times.
In the end, it’s a nice story, as long as you don’t try to read into it. Although it’s certainly insightful and intuitive, it’s a work of fiction- and nothing more.
Lilly is fearless, except when it comes to spiders. Lilly is brave, except when it comes to extreme sports. Lilly is awesome, no matter what.