cover image My Abandonment

My Abandonment

Peter Rock, . . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101414-9

The engaging but limited perspective of 13-year-old Caroline, “the hillbilly girl that lived in the park,” reveals a highly circumscribed world. When first met, Caroline and Father are scavenging for materials to make a shelter in the “forest park” outside of Portland, Ore., where they seem to be hiding out. They make cautious trips into the city to the supermarket and the library, but a lapse by Caroline brings police attention, and they are taken into custody. Jean Bauer, whose profession is unclear, helps Father secure employment and brings pots and pans and school clothes for Caroline. Who are these two? Caroline walks “past posters with my face on them, my old name, and no one sees me.” Father says: “If I weren't your father... how could I have walked right into your backyard and walked away with you and no one said a word?” This is a tale of survival, of love and attachment, of mystery and alienation. It is an utterly entrancing book, a bow to Thoreau and a nod to the detective story. Every step of this narrative, despite providing more questions than answers, rings true. (Mar.)