NOW A MAJOR FILM, LEAVE NO TRACE, DIRECTED BY DEBRA GRANIK AND STARRING BEN FOSTER AND THOMASIN HARCOURT MCKENZIE
A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, an enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. They inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, wash 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 civilized world. But one small mistake allows a backcountry jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight.
Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of its young narrator, Caroline, My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope.
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.