Parents are advised to approach this wrenching memoir with caution--it will evoke all their worst fears. It's not just that Martha Tod Dudman frankly delineates her daughter Augusta's descent into drinking, smoking, drug use, and truancy, as well as casually lying about all of it. Dudman also acknowledges her own feelings of isolation, despair, and incredible guilt. Has she caused Augusta's behavior? Is it because she divorced Augusta's father? Did she spend too many hours working at her family-owned radio network? Is Augusta mimicking Dudman's own troubled teen years, when she got thrown out of high school for smoking pot? There aren't any easy answers, merely an agonizing litany of fears realized as Augusta comes and goes in her mother's house, vanishing for days at a time, moods ranging from manipulative to sullen to openly defiant, until things get so bad that Dudman enrolls her first in a wilderness program, then in a school program for troubled kids. Nothing miraculous happens, only more ugly confrontations, until Augusta finally runs away. Through the turmoil, however, we can see the troubled girl slowly and painfully turning a corner. Dudman's plain, punchy prose perfectly conveys the terror of a parent watching her child's life, along with her own, careen off the tracks, yet she also captures the charm and vitality of her "impossible, enraging, engaging, infuriating" daughter. As upsetting as this narrative often gets, there's always a trace of hope that Augusta and her family will pull through. --Wendy Smith
The story of a girl who is doing everything to hurt herself and a mother who would try anything to try to save her.
True, she had stopped coming down for breakfast. Stayed up in her room, ran out the door late for school, missed the bus and had to have a ride. But you think, well, that's how they are, aren't they, teenagers? And you try to remember how you were, but you were different and the times were different and it was so long ago. And she's suddenly so angry at you, but then, another time, she's just the same. She's just your little girl. You sit with her and you talk about something, or you go shopping for school clothes and everything seems all right. And you forget how you stood in her room and how the center of your stomach felt so cold. When you found the cigarette. When you found the blue pipe. When you found the little bag she said was aspirin.
"I'm not telling you where I am. Don't try to find me", says Martha Tod Dudman's wayward daughter at the start of Augusta, Gone. A single parent, Martha was sure she was giving her two children the perfect life, sheltering them from the wild tumult of her own youth. But when Augusta turned fifteen, things started to happen; first the cigarette, then the blue pipe and the little bag Augusta says are aspirin. Just talking to her is like putting a hand in the garbage disposal. Martha doesn't know if she's confronting adolescent behavior, craziness, her own failures as a parent -- or all three. Augusta, Gone is the story of a girl who is doing everything to hurt herself and a mother who would try anything to save her. This fiercely gripping memoir unfolds at a relentless pace, with pedal-to-the-metal narrative drive. Yet its ultimate message of forgiveness and redemption charts a course through the troubled waters of adolescence, and leaves an indelible imprint.