As a single parent Martha was sure she was giving her two children the perfect life. When daughter Augusta turned 15 things started to happen; first the cigarette, then the blue pipe and the little bag Augusta says are aspirin. Martha can't seem to get through to Augusta, and Augusta it appears is intent of doing everything to hurt herself. Martha doesn't know if she's confronting teenage adolescence, craziness, her own failure as a parent, or all three.
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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 SmithAbout the Author:
Martha Tod Dudman served as President and General Manager of Dudman Communications, a group of radio stations, from 1990 to 1999. Now a professional fundraiser, she lives in Northeast Harbor, Maine, with her son and daughter.
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