The Stardust Lounge by Deborah Digges

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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.

About Deborah Digges

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Deborah Digges was born and raised in Missouri. She is the author of three books of poems. Her first book, Vesper Sparrows, won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York University. Late in the Millennium was published in 1989, and Rough Music, which won the Kingsley Tufts Prize, was published in 1995. Digges has written two memoirs, Fugitive Spring (1991) and The Stardust Lounge (2001). She has received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. Digges lives in Massachusetts, where she is a professor of English at Tufts University.
Published July 29, 2009 by Anchor. 241 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In his Boston high school (his mother was by then teaching at Tufts), Stephen started carrying a gun to class, stole cars, threatened his classmates, and refused to work.

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Publishers Weekly

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Skipping backwards and forwards in time, Digges tightens the focus on significant moments in her life with Stephen, sometimes neglecting important characters and revelations (e.g., we only learn that Digges married one of the other characters in the book through her author bio).

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Entertainment Weekly

This book is much about his creative specialness, and the very creative, special way Digges embraced her boy's badass wildness, even if it meant busting up her second marriage and living in a house like a ''war zone,'' overrun with stray animals.

Jul 27 2001 | Read Full Review of The Stardust Lounge

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