AUGUSTA, GONE by Martha Tod Dudman


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Harrowing account of a teenage girl in crisis, told with remarkable frankness by her mother.

Dudman, a divorcée raising two children while running a network of radio stations in Maine, thought she was doing a good job of balancing work and family. Suddenly, however, her daughter spun out of control—staying out all night, skipping school, drinking, taking drugs, lying, screaming curses at her mother, even threatening her with a knife. Unable to cope with Augusta's frighteningly self-destructive behavior and fearful for her daughter’s safety, Dudman eventually sent the 16-year-old out west to a rugged six-week wilderness program for troubled children. This was followed by placement in Forest Ridge, a boarding school in Oregon designed expressly to help adolescents like her. Dudman’s vivid account of the painful visits with her angry, sometimes even hateful daughter, and of her encounters with other parents and school counselors chill the heart. Shortly after one visit, when some progress appeared to have been made, Augusta ran away. After a detective found her, Dudman sent her for another session at the wilderness program, and then back to Forest Ridge, where she again ran away. Through the Runaway Switchboard and Home Free, Augusta contacted her mother and begged to be allowed to come home. Dudman agreed, stipulating that certain rules of behavior be followed. Soon after August returned, Dudman placed her in a tiny residential school in Camden, from which she graduated in 1999. Dudman, who readily reveals her inner turmoil, anger, and despair, does not pretend to know what changed her daughter. Her own adolescent years were a troubled time too, and her recollections of them give a special poignancy to her account of her daughter’s actions. If there’s any message to other parents of teens in this candid memoir of a hellish time, it’s “hang in there.”

Unsettling, of course, but hopeful and uplifting.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7432-0409-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001


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