Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
If you enjoy reading memoirs about dysfunctional families, then this book is for you. The author is both eloquent and honest. Most readers are sure to empathize with the story she weaves about her childhood and toxic relationship with her mother. I appreciate the author's struggle, but the book just didn't grab me.
Ann W. (new york, NY)
With or Without You
"I see the awakening of consciousness as a series of spaced flashes, with the intervals between them gradually diminishing until bright blocks of perception are formed, affording memory and a slippery hold." Vladimir Nabokov, 'Speak, Memory'. I had been reading this in memory of a dear friend who died in her sleep in late September. His language is sensual, lush and inviting. I want to look at butterflies and let me senses evoke memories.
After finishing rereading 'Speak, Memory' and listening to it as well, I picked up Ruta's lyrical memoir. I wanted my friend. I wanted to read her passages and share my wonder. "We're lonesome. That's all. There isn't a word in the English language more beautiful than lonesome…the whole world could be contained in that single word."
Her book is an elegant and rich evocation of a life lived in all its grandeur; her love, her hate, her anger and what might be termed the full catastrophe. I was delighted to read of her adventure at Nablov's birthplace in St. Petersburg; to be reminded of his dogs. In her memoir, there is compassion, humor, sadness sorrow and self-inflected pain. Ultimately, she creates herself, one step at a time.
As I have been reading it, I have told all my dog waiting friends to read it. I have quoted passages. We need books and stories that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply as the death of a close friend. With or without you does that. After finishing the last pages, I started rereading it.
Suzanne G. (Tucson, AZ)
With or Without You
This memoir left me with an uneasy feeling. It is hard to believe that anyone so strung out, so damaged, so low a self-esteem could write such a tantalizing story, yet alone remember anything about her past 30 years. How in heaven's name was she able to advance herself to the educational level she did, with so much absence that comes with both her real life, and her mind-altering life? I will have to say I liked her style of writing, her words and her strength.
With or Without You
This is a tough book because it is a very tough true story. I had to pace myself as I read this or the story got to be too much for me. This author wrote about her life which was extremely difficult and with her own struggle with alcohol and self worth. I thought that her writing had the edge of a survivor and clearly despite many set backs, it seems like she is on the right track. I do recommend the book, but it is not for those who like their reality sugar coated.
Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Excellent, wish there were 6 stars!
Loved this book! I'm fascinated with books about dysfunctional families when there is survival and redemption and Ruta's story is one of the best. The writing is wonderful and the story is harrowing, funny, and inspirational. I've reviewed quite a few books for First Impressions, and I've never given 5 stars. Don't miss this book.
Bea C. (Liberty Lake, WA)
White Trash Opera
Sometimes it's hard to read about the life of a woman who was raised by an unfit mother. This book has chapter after chapter of the author relating repulsive things her mother said and did, like leaving her 10 year old daughter with a known pedophile, wanting her teenaged daughter to get pregnant and starting her daughter out on alcohol and snorting Oxycontin. Her mother is the kind of person I don't want to be around, and spending a whole book reading about her was almost more than I could take. Maybe the author wanted us to understand why she is "through" with her mother. Don't worry. I forgive the author. Even with a lot of rambling, aimless jumping about throughout her past and present life, the last few chapters of the book about her recovery make the book worth reading. The book can best be summed up with a quote from the author,"It starts out as a girlish whisper, grows louder with each passing year, until that faint promise we traced in the sand becomes a declarative, then an imperative: I WILL NOT BECOME BY MOTHER."
Cam G. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
You will love it, you will hate it, you will even despair, but no matter how you feel, you will be in thrall of this young woman's life and how she turns it around. She was born to a drug-addicted mother who, incredibly, turned her daughter into one as well when she was a teen. Ruta is well into her 20's when she comes to realize that she needs to change her life into one without addiction and without her mother.
This is quite a read!