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My Abandonment
by Peter Rock
Peter Rock’s website

Questions for Study and Discussion

  • In what ways did Caroline receive a good education at the hands of her father?  In what ways was her education lacking?
  • Several times Caroline reaches out to others.  What do those incidents tell us about what kind of person Caroline is and what is important to her?
  • What do you think is wrong with Caroline's father? What clues are there to determine his mental state?
  • There are several homeless characters in the book. What do you think Peter Rock is trying to tell us about life for the homeless in the US?
  • Why do you think Caroline's father decides to trust Paul and Susan?
  • Is Caroline's "father" really her father?  What evidence is there that casts doubt on his relationship to Caroline?
  • Reflect on Caroline's life as an adult.  Is she happy?
  • Caroline's father suggests that they are living the life of a  writer. Given that, what do you think the author is trying to say about a writer's life?


Below are more detailed questions related to each chapter.

Chapter 1

  • Early in the book Caroline’s father says, “Look carefully, Caroline. There’s a lesson here. It’s better homework than being in school, that’s for certain.” What types of things are better learned at home than in school? 
  • How old is Caroline? In what ways is she typical for her age?  In what ways is she a typical?
  • Describe where Caroline and her father live and what their daily life is like.
  • What does Caroline’s encounter with Zachary tell you about her character?
  • Who/what is Randy and why is he important to Caroline?
  • Why do Caroline and her father go to town?  How do they get money?
  • How does Caroline’s father explain they are different from the homeless in the men’s camp?
  • What happens at the end of the chapter that changes Caroline’s and her father’s life?

Chapter 2

  • How is Caroline treated by Miss Jean Bauer and the other police officers and social workers?  Why do you think they are worried about her?
  • How long had Caroline and her father been living in Forest Park?
  • What happened to Caroline’s mother, according to her father?
  • Caroline tells the social workers she was perfectly happy in the park.  Do you believe her?  Why or why not?

Chapter 3

  • Describe their new living situation on Mr. Walters’ land.
  • What are some clues that Caroline’s father is becoming paranoid, or emotionally disturbed?
  • What are some clues that Caroline is adjusting to her new life?
  • Why do you think father wants to leave their new house?
  • Do you think Caroline wants to leave?  Why do you think as you do?

Chapter 4

  • Who is Vincent and what is his connection to Caroline’s father?
  • How does Caroline feel when she thinks about her old life in a real house?
  • What has happened to Valerie?  What does this tell us about life for many of the homeless?

Chapter 5

  • What is strange about the way Father is acting in this chapter?
  • Why does Father decide to get off the bus in the middle of the forest at nighttime?

Chapter 6

  • Who are Paul and Susan?
  • Why do you think Caroline’s father trusts Susan?
  • What does Susan end up doing to Caroline’s father?
  • Compare Caroline’s life to the life of the teenagers she meets having a party in the cave.
  • What has happened to Caroline’s father by the end of this chapter?
  • Explain what Caroline remembers from when she is 10 years old in Boise.  Do you believe Father’s story about who he really is?

Chapter 7

  • Caroline visits her foster parents’ home in Boise and says “They tried to hold on to me longer than they were supposed to, to make me be like them when I am not like them and have places to go.”  How is Caroline like other people?  How is she not like other people?
  • Who is Della and what does Caroline think of her?
  • Do you believe that Caroline’s father is her true father, and these were her foster parents?  Defend your view.
  • At the end of this chapter, some girls try to help Caroline.  How can you tell that she is tempted to take their help?  Why do you think she runs away?

Chapter 8

  • Describe Caroline’s life now.
  • How does Caroline feel about her father?  How do you know?
  • Looking back, what do you think about Caroline’s father?  Did he do a good job raising her?
  • Do you think Caroline is happy?  Explain.
[2012 Discussion Guide]