If you tell me who I am, should I believe you?
In this disquieting novel by Peter Rock, identity is questioned from several angles and told from the POV of Caroline, a bright, 13 year old girl who lives with Father in the largest city park in Portland. We're not sure where she came from, what's really in store for her or what exactly Father's true motives are as he tries to keep them both "off the grid" and undiscovered in plain sight.
Father appears to be a veteran with recurring and disturbing dreams of helicopters while Caroline has a vague memory of a sister and parents that were part of her life before Father and is reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping a few years back. Rock continually blurs the line between genuine parental love and concern and the sense of "ownership" Father has over Caroline.
And how's life with Father? He's smart and kind, wise and strong and seems to truly believe he's doing what's best for her but let's face it--he's creepy. His sincerity is creepy and with Caroline on the very verge of puberty and a new level of self-awareness, it makes Father even creepier. While he is constantly teaching Caroline and educating her with the help of encyclopedias and trips to the public library, he has chosen this life, this homelessness, for them and that is no life in which to raise a child.
I wondered if Rock would be able to sustain that sense of foreboding, the tension of not getting caught and fear not--the book is unsettling throughout. Needless to say, Marley & Me, this isn't, but it is an intriguing if disturbing look at who we are to ourselves and to each other.
For more about the author, visit http://www.peterrockproject.com/