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About The Book

"I'm not telling you where I am. Don't try to find me."
Remember Go Ask Alice? Augusta, Gone is the memoir Alice's mother never wrote. A single parent, Martha Tod Dudman is sure she is giving her two children the perfect life, sheltering them from the wild tumult of her own youth. But when Augusta turns fifteen, things start to happen: first the cigarette, then the blue pipe and the little bag Augusta says is aspirin. Just talking to her is like sticking your 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. It is a sorrowful tale, but not a tragic one. Though the book charts a harrowing course through the troubled waters of adolescence, hope -- that mother and daughter will be reunited and will learn to love one another again -- steers them toward a shore of forgiveness and redemption.
Written with darkly seductive grace, Augusta, Gone conjures the dangerous thrill of being drawn into the heart of a whirling vortex. This daring book will be admired for its lyricism, applauded for its courage, and remembered for its power. It demands to be read from start to finish, in one breathless sitting.

Reading Group Guide

Martha Tod Dudman knew her teenage daughter, Augusta, was in serious trouble long before she accepted it. Like many parents, Dudman did not want to confront her daughter's out-of-control behavior --the smoking, the drugs, the bulimia, the disappearing for days at a time. With courageous honesty, Augusta, Gone: A True Story transports readers to the front lines of a family pushed to the breaking point, and deftly exhumes the profound depths of parental love.
Discussion questions
1. Worry about teenagers has been a constant in modern society, but with broken families, school shootings, and legions of lost children, the dangers seem more pronounced than ever. How does Augusta, Gone reflect these concerns? Is the book a comfort? A beacon of hope for families still working through their own tough times?
2. A generational theme runs through Augusta, Gone. Martha Tod Dudman recalls her own turbulent adolescence and troubles with her own mom: "I'm up against it. My own past and my fearful motherhood." Might Augusta's troubles be a form of retribution for Martha's classic "boomer" behavior? Do you think that this generation, as a group, has failed their children?
3. "There were things that started to happen," Dudman recalls of her daughter's descent into adolescent turmoil of epic proportions. How does Dudman recreate the experience (both hers and her daughter's) of being out of control? How does she seek to restore a balance?
4. "I just want to keep her safe," writes Dudman about her self-destructive daughter. Augusta, Gone reveals just how fragile the boundary between danger and safety can be. Were you frightened for Augusta as you read the book? What other emotions did you experience?
5. From her children's youngest days, Dudman tried to be the kind of parent who really talked to her kids. Augusta, Gone chronicles the breakdown of parent-child communication, when conversations degenerate into "lies and exaggerations. Stories with enough truth in them to sometimes seem like real stories. Things that never happened. Things that could have happened." Discuss the ways communication functions -- as an obstacle, as a solution, or any other pattern you detect.
6. Augusta, Gone explores some extreme parenting situations, as well as circumstances universal to all parents. Do you think parents' response to the book will reflect their particular parenting experiences? Which passages resonate most powerfully in this regard?
7. Augusta, Gone does not profess to have the answers to the problems that Dudman, and so many other parents, face. In place of prescriptive programs, the book offers this heartfelt advice: Never give up, and never stop loving your children. How do Martha's actions show her love for Augusta?
8. In the aftermath of Augusta's unexpected homecoming, Martha describes the new kind of relationship she's forging with her daughter. "This has changed both of us, having her gone," she reflects. Chart the arc of each character's development over the course of the book.
9. Honesty is a primary characteristic of Dudman's writing. If you were called upon to share a personal story of your own, would you follow Martha's example? Would you feel more comfortable presenting your story as fiction or nonfiction?
10. In press interviews, Dudman is often asked about Augusta's response to the book. She replies:
I was scared about having Augusta read it. I thought it would make her sad or angry at me for telling about that dark time. I warned her that it was going to be tough to read, and I told her to remember, the whole time she was reading the first part, that the book got better. I told her in the second part she'd see that I loved her. I told her to remember that, all the time she was reading it, that I loved her.
After she'd read the book she called me up. She told be that she kept waiting for the part when I was so angry. She said, "It isn't in the second half that you love me, Mommy. You love me all the way through."


About The Author

Photo Credit:

Martha Tod Dudman is the author of Expecting to Fly and Augusta, Gone, which was adapted into an award-winning Lifetime Television movie. She lives in Maine.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 8, 2001)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743217224

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Raves and Reviews

Elizabeth Wurtzel author of Prozac Nation and Bitch Augusta, Gone is entirely unexpected. It is a story about wild things and where they go. Martha Tod Dudman's writing is a shock -- so amazing, so simple, so precise, so correct. Imagine an understated story about the most overwrought horror, and about a love so big that it is stifled by its own force. This book alarmed and devastated me, it made me laugh and made me wonder -- and it told me why and how. Augusta, Gone may be mistaken for a mother-daughter story, a coolly sentimental tale of love and reconciliation between generations. But it is really about life and how it happens, how, in all its devastation, it just keeps happening: like mother, like daughter, like hell.

Molly Jong-Fast author of Normal Girl Augusta, Gone is a book long overdue, the most moving, honest memoir to come along in a very long time. I cried when I read this book, for all the misunderstood parents and their lost children.

Karen Karbo author of Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me Martha Tod Dudman reveals one of life's best-kept secrets: no one can rip out your heart like your own child. Augusta, Gone is a shock and a wonder, a two-ton truck on a mountain road without brakes, a tough, poignant tale of the revenge of the life cycle, in its ironic glory.

Ann Hood author of Ruby and Do Not Go Gentle Augusta, Gone is a devastating, powerful, frightening, lovely book that explores the enormous and mysterious bond between mothers and daughters. When I finished reading this book, I did two things: I called my own mother and then I hugged my own daughter, hard, both in the hopes of holding on to that elusive something that keeps us together, and that always threatens to drive us apart.

Harriet Lerner, Ph.D author of The Dance of Anger I thought I'd heard everything about the anxiety, guilt, weariness, vulnerability and love that go with the territory of motherhood. But no one -- and I mean no one -- tells the story as truly as Martha Tod Dudman. Augusta, Gone is like a powerful spike that pierces the hypocrisy and sentimentality of all the myths that surround motherhood. This courageous book takes us to the heart of life itself, which does not go as we expect or plan.

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