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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Stardust Lounge|
|Release Date: 07-29-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Stardust Lounge|
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The Stardust Lounge
Thirteen-year-old Stephen has run away again. He's out there somewhere with his gang, all of them dressed for the dark in black-hooded sweatshirts, oversized team jackets, ball caps, baggy pants that ride low on their hips. Inside their pockets they hold on to guns, switchblades. Recently Stephen has shaved part of his right eyebrow.
It's about 4:00 a.m., late September. I'm in my study on the east side of our brownstone apartment house in Brookline, Massachusetts, three stories above the street.
Maybe Stephen can see that my study light is on. I imagine him looking up from one of the condemned train cars' shot-out windows in the rubble field not far from us, looking up to this coin of light like a lighthouse beacon in one of my mother's favorite hymns.
But Stephen would protest he is no flailing ship. He is Henry Martin, the youngest of three brothers in the Scottish ballad I used to read to him, Henry Martin, who became the robber of the three, having drawn the losing lot.
But as fate would have it, Martin was good at pirating-brutal, unequivocal, the beloved captain of a ship that cruised the shoals off Britain, pillaging shipwrecks and intercepting inbound merchant vessels.
All night in Boston sirens close in, scale back. We are as far north as we have ever been, the light here opening on a series of stingy, frigid days, shutting down suddenly.
Maybe the cops have picked Stephen up, in which case I will hear something soon. More likely he has fallen asleep on the floor of someone's room. It might be hours before I hear from him. He has run enough times that I know he will call. He hates himself for having to, but he can't help