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The Stardust Lounge: Stories from a Boy's Adolescenceby Deborah Digges
Synopses & Reviews
At the age of twelve, Deborah Digges's son Stephen was running in gangs, stealing cars, and bringing home guns. This is the story of the adolescence that followed, of a boy growing up quickly and aggressively, with unrestrainable energy and a flair for risky and outrageous behavior. It is his story, as told by his mother, who is intent on pulling together a family that can get her son through these years alive, not just undamaged but the better for them.
In beautiful, vibrant prose, devoid of self-pity, anger, or blame, Deborah describes her struggle to understand and protect her son as his behavior escalates beyond her control. Even in the midst of the most harrowing experiences, Stephen's intelligence and sensitivity shine through: in an essay he writes about his older brother, in his photography, in his incisive explanations for his unruly activities, in his impulse to take care of those in worse shape than he is in. And as Stephen's misadventures take him into territory; emotional territory, but also actual neighborhoods Deborah has never encountered before, she tags along behind (sometimes literally, trailing him under cover of night) and teaches herself to understand how and why he acts, thinks, feels the way he does.
Eventually, mother and son begin to rebuild their lives. A visit to a therapist who suggests they throw knives at a cardboard target proves surprisingly effective. Together, Deborah and Stephen take in a bizarre menagerie, including an unforgettable trio of dogs: Buster the epileptic bulldog; GQ, another bulldog, this one on Prozac; and Rufus, a basset hound who decides to raise a litter of motherless kittens. And, finally, Deborah and Stephen open their home to Trev, a friend of Stephen's abandoned by his family. Each new responsibility strengthens their unusual household into a real, if unconventional, family that can defend Stephen when he goes too far, that can pull him back him back in and help him redirect his energy.
At times touching, at times terrifying, this is a taut and fiercely engaging, uniquely insightful, and inspiring portrait of male adolescence in our complicated world.
From the Hardcover edition.
The author of Fugitive Spring describes her desperate battle to understand, protect, and preserve her wildly rebellious teenage son, an intelligent and sensitive young man whose behavior is escalating beyond her control, as they rebuild their lives and transform their unusual household into a loving family. Reader's Guide included. Reprint. 17,500 first printing.
Stephen Digges is the kind of angry adolescent a lot of parents would have given up on. He is out of control by the time he is 13 — running with gangs, stealing cars, fooling around with drugs and guns, and in general making his family’s life hell. Confronted with his growing recklessness and defiance, his mother, the poet Deborah Digges, decides to try to accept Stephen on his own terms--a course that stuns her family and leads to the breakup of her second marriage. Digges “shadows” him on his late-night forays so that she can understand his world, welcomes his gang into their apartment, and tries to see life through his eyes. When she discovers that children who are devoted to animals have an easier time forming attachments to other people, she fills their home with a menagerie of ailing or abandoned pets. She also turns to an unconventional therapist who offers unusual — but helpful — treatment.
The Stardust Lounge isn’t your usual story of rebellious adolescence. The power of Digges’s memoir comes from her stubborn unwillingness to give up on Stephen. Even when things are roughest, Digges manages to see the intelligent, sensitive child behind the hostile behavior. However difficult the path she chooses, her story is ultimately a heartening one, and it’s impossible not to root for this family as it rebuilds itself.
About the Author
Deborah Digges lives in Massachusetts.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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